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Nobels

Chemistry Nobel awarded to 3 scientists who 'created a rechargeable world' with the lithium-ion battery

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday to John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham, and Akira Yoshino "for the development of lithium-ion batteries," collectively creating "a rechargeable world."

Whittingham, a Briton at SUNY Binghamton, got the ball rolling in the 1970s, during the oil crisis, developing the first functional lithium battery, though it was too explosive to be commercially viable. Goodenough, a German-born professor at the University of Texas at Austin, doubled the lithium battery's potential, and Yoshino replaced Goodenough's cobalt oxide cathode with petroleum coke, ridding the battery of pure lithium and creating the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in Japan in 1985.

"The result was a lightweight, hardwearing battery that could be charged hundreds of times before its performance deteriorated," the Swedish academy said. "Lithium-ion batteries are used globally to power the portable electronics that we use to communicate, work, study, listen to music and search for knowledge. Lithium-ion batteries have also enabled the development of long-range electric cars and the storage of energy from renewable sources, such as solar and wind power." Read more about their research at the Nobel Committee.