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Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019 awarded to developers of Li-ion battery

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019 to John B. Goodenough, The University of Texas at Austin; M. Stanley Whittingham, Binghamton University, State University of New York; and Akira Yoshino, Asahi Kasei Corporation, for the development of lithium-ion batteries.

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 started to research superconductors and discovered an extremely energy-rich material, which he used to create an innovative cathode in a lithium battery. This was made from titanium disulfide which, at a molecular level, has spaces that can house—intercalate—lithium ions.


Whittingham’s battery.

The battery’s anode was partially made from metallic lithium, which has a strong drive to release electrons. This resulted in a battery that literally had great potential, just over two volts. However, metallic lithium is reactive and the battery was too explosive to be viable.

John Goodenough predicted that the cathode would have even greater potential if it was made using a metal oxide instead of a metal sulfide. After a systematic search, in 1980 he demonstrated that cobalt oxide with intercalated lithium ions can produce as much as four volts. This was an important breakthrough and would lead to much more powerful batteries.


Goodenough’s battery.

With Goodenough’s cathode as a basis, Akira Yoshino created the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in 1985. Rather than using reactive lithium in the anode, he used petroleum coke, a carbon material that, like the cathode’s cobalt oxide, can intercalate lithium ions.


Yoshino’s battery.

The result was a lightweight, hardwearing 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.



a: Well done.
b: Why did it take so long?
c: John Goodenough is 97 years old - lucky they got him before he died.
d: Well done again.


Lithium ion batteries enabled the modern electric vehicle,
this was a major contribution and well deserved award.


It took so long because the Swedish Academy is trying to be "woke".  Seems that those nasty white and yellow men keep giving advances to the world instead of sitting back and letting women and under-represented minorities have a chance to catch up.  Handing yet more medals to stale pale males was obviously a last resort.

We'd be just fine if Goodenough, Whittingham, and Yoshino had just sat on their hands because they weren't the right color or gender, right?  Right?


Near future improved (500+ Wh/Kg), much quicker charge (15 to 20 minutes), long lasting (up to 5,000 cycles), much lower cost ($50/kwh) are being developed and should be mass produced by 2025/2030?

Over 20 groups (and as many Nobel price contenders) may contribute in the next 10 years.


@EP, that doesn't really hold (certainly in chemistry).
If you look at a list of chemistry winners, they look pretty male to me.

Here's a nice video of a Sir Martyn Poliakoff doing chemistry.


That whizzing sound you heard was sarcasm going over your head.

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