John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their development of lightweight lithium-ion batteries, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has announced.
“Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized our lives and are used in everything from mobile phones to laptops and electric vehicles,” the Nobel Prize committee said in a statement following the announcement. “Through their work, this year’s Chemistry laureates have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil fuel-free society.”
Lithium-Ion Batteries have also revolutionized video, audio and a wide range of smaller tools used by broadcasters and content producers.
Whittingham, a professor at Binghamton University, State University of New York, began developing methods for fossil fuel-free energy technologies starting in the 1970s and discovered a cathode — or a type of electrical conductor through which electrons move — in a lithium battery. His discovery resulted in the first functional lithium battery.
The other two scientists developed new innovations based on that battery.
Goodenough, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, discovered that the cathode would have greater potential if it were made with a different material and showed that cobalt oxide with intercalated lithium ions could produce a higher voltage.
Yoshino, an honorary fellow for the Asahi Kasei Corp. in Tokyo and a professor at Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan, then eliminated pure lithium from the battery, instead using only lithium ions, which are safer. He created the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in 1985.
Since Lithium-Ion Batteries were introduced to the market in 1991, their light weight made portable electronics a staple of modern life.
The batteries contribute to reducing the impact of climate change by enabling a switch from fossil fuel energy to renewable and sustainable forms.
“Development of these batteries is a huge step forward, so we that we can really store solar and wind energy,” said Sara Snogerup Linse, the chairwoman of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.