John Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham, Akira Yoshino, these three names may not mean anything to you. However, they are at the origin of an invention that you all have at home or even on your person. These three men, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2019, are the inventors of the rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Nowadays, we can find these batteries in our phones, computers, electric cars …
The origin of this revolutionary invention
The British Stanley Whittingham is the initiator of the project. He started his research in the 1970s in the middle of the oil crisis and succeeded in developing an innovative cathode. However, it was not stable enough for commercialization. John Goodenough and Akira Yoshino continued Whittingham’s research, respectively in the United States and in Japan.
The lithium-ion battery was finally commercialized in 1991 after Akira Yoshino made it safer by removing pure lithium. It was in 2019 that the three inventors of the Lithium-ion battery were honored. John Goodenough became the oldest recipient of the Nobel Prize at the age of 91.
A real technical breakthrough
The Academy of Sciences tweeted that “via their work, this year’s chemistry laureates have laid the foundation for a wireless, fossil fuel-free society”. Lithium-ion batteries are much more stable and therefore safer. It also represents a step forward for protecting the environment by trying not to use fossil fuels.
Lithium-ion batteries also offer better performance for the same battery size. They allow for a shorter charging time and a longer lifespan, which also reduces costs. Thanks to these characteristics, the Lithium-ion battery has become the mainstay of modern technology.