Developers Of Lithium-ion Battery Win Nobel Prize In Chemistry

Three scientists who made valuable contributions towards the development of the lithium-ion battery won this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

American professor and solid-state physicist John B. Goodenough, British-American chemist Stanley Whittingham, and Japanese chemist Akira Yoshino will share the prize money of 9 million Swedish kronor, or $0.904 million equally.

Prof Goodenough, 97, has also become the oldest ever Nobel laureate.

Göran K. Hansson, Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, announced the award in Stockholm Wednesday.

Through their work, they have created the right conditions for a wireless and fossil fuel-free society, and so brought the greatest benefit to humankind, he said.

The lightweight, rechargeable and powerful battery is used in everything from mobile phones to laptops and electric vehicles. It can also store energy from solar and wind power.

The foundation of the lithium-ion battery was laid during the oil crisis in the 1970s. Stanley Whittingham worked on developing methods that could lead to fossil fuel-free energy technologies. He discovered an extremely energy-rich material, which he used to create an innovative cathode in a lithium battery.

After a systematic search, in 1980, John Goodenough demonstrated that cobalt oxide with intercalated lithium ions can produce as much as four volts. This was an important breakthrough that led to much more powerful batteries.

With Goodenough’s cathode as a basis, Akira Yoshino created the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in 1985.

The result was a lightweight, hard wearing battery that could be charged hundreds of times before its performance deteriorated. The advantage of lithium-ion batteries is that they are not based upon chemical reactions that break down the electrodes, but upon lithium ions flowing back and forth between the anode and cathode.

Goodenough, who is American but was born in Germany, is a professor at The University of Texas.

Whittingham is currently a professor of chemistry and director of both the Institute for Materials Research and the Materials Science and Engineering program at Binghamton University in Vestal, U.S.

Yoshino works for the Asahi Kasei Corporation and is professor at Meijo University, Nagoya.

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