Scientists Win Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Developing the Lithium-Ion Battery

Elias Hubbard
October 10, 2019

They are a type of rechargeable battery used for portable electronics and electric vehicles - significantly lighter and more compact than earlier types of rechargeable batteries.

Then, in 1985, Akira Yoshino debuted the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery, a battery that could be charged hundreds of times before performance deterioration.

Goodenough, who is considered an intellectual giant of solid state chemistry and physics, is the oldest person to ever win a Nobel Prize - edging out Arthur Ashkin, who was 96 when he was awarded the Nobel for physics previous year.

Three scientists from the US and Japan have received the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry 'for the development of lithium-ion batteries'.

The groundwork for lithium-ion batteries was laid down during the height of the oil crisis in the 1970s, with Whittingham looking to develop energy technologies that weren't reliant on fossil fuels. He developed the first functional lithium battery in an attempt to eliminate the use of fossil fuel from the energy industry.

He is also the eighth recipient of the chemistry prize following Ei-ichi Negishi, a Purdue University chemistry professor, and Akira Suzuki, professor emeritus at Hokkaido University, who were among three winners in 2010.

Goodenough won the award alongside Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for their contributions to the development of lithium-ion batteries. The revamped panel at the Swedish Academy who will hand out the Nobel literature prizes Thursday Oct. 10, 2019, for both 2018 and 2019 would relish arguments about the winners, rather than intrigue about the #MeToo scandal that forced the institution to suspend the prize past year. Coupled with the metallic lithium anode, his work resulted in a powerful-although reactive and potentially explosive-battery.

But that battery remained too unstable for general commercial use. The Committee has confirmed that the three scientists will receive $918,000 to be shared along with a gold medal and a diploma on December 10 in Stockholm. When the battery material - lithium - proved prone to catching fire, it took the work of Goodenough, 97, to make it into a usable device.

William G Kaelin Jr, Peter J Ratcliffe and Gregg L Semenza received the award jointly from the Nobel Committee. I know it is the week of Nobel Prize, but I didn't pay attention.

The Japanese chemist Akira Yoshino, victor of the European Inventor Award 2019, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year. "I have to say I feel more confused than happy".

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