Award for lithium-ion battery PIONEERS

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 10 Oct 2019

Three researchers won the Nobel Chemistry Prize yesterday for the development of lithium-ion batteries, paving the way for smartphones and a fossil fuel-free society.

American John Goodenough, Britain's Stanley Whittingham, and Japan's Akira Yoshino will share the nine million Swedish kronor (HK$7.1 million) prize equally, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

"This lightweight, rechargeable and powerful battery is now used in everything from mobile phones to laptops and electric vehicles ... [and] can also store significant amounts of energy from solar and wind power, making possible a fossil fuel-free society," the jury said.

Seeking an alternative source of power during the oil crisis of the 1970s, Whittingham discovered a way to harness the potential energy in lithium, a metal so light it floats on water. He constructed a battery partly made of lithium that utilized the element's natural tendency to shed electrons to transfer energy. However the battery was too unstable to be used.

Goodenough built on Whittingham's prototype, substituting a different metal compound and doubling the potential energy of the battery to four volts.

In 1985, Yoshino used a carbon-based material that stores lithium ions, rendering the battery commercially viable.

Their research resulted in the most powerful, lightweight and rechargeable battery ever seen.

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