Pssst! Do you own a cellphone, laptop, electric car, cordless power tools or anything with rechargeable batteries? Then give thanks for Nobel Prize winners John B Goodenough, M Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino.
The three scientists have been credited with the invention of the rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries can be found in pretty much everything from mobile phones to electric vehicles and can store significant amounts of energy from solar and wind power. They were first developed in the 1970s.
The men have been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry. They will receive equal shares of the US $905,000 prize, which was announced Wednesday (Oct 9) by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.
Goodenough is from the University of Texas at Austin, Whittingham from Binghamton University and Yoshino, the Meijo University.
Stanley Whittingham first laid the foundations for lithium-ion batteries during the oil crisis in the 1970s, when he created an innovative cathode that could hold lithium ions. John Goodenough — who at 97 years old is the oldest ever Nobel laureate — built upon this research in the 1980s when he demonstrated that a battery could hold four volts of charge. Akira Yoshino then created the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in 1985.
Speaking to reporters after the announcement, Professor Yoshino said the news was “amazing” and “surprising,” and that he was pleased his contributions could help fight climate change, which he called a “very serious issue for humankind”.