A Rechargeable World: 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Today, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the 2019 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry. John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino received the Prize “for the development of lithium-ion batteries”.

John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino, 2019 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, Copyright: Nobel Media. Illustration: Niklas Elmehed

From the popular scientific background of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences:

“An element rarely gets to play a central role in a drama, but the story of 2019’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry has a clear protagonist: lithium, an ancient element that was created during the first minutes of the Big Bang. […]

Lithium’s weakness – its reactivity – is also its strength. In the early 1970s, Stanley Whittingham used lithium’s enormous drive to release its outer electron when he developed the first functional lithium battery. In 1980, John Goodenough doubled the battery’s potential, creating the right conditions for a vastly more powerful and useful battery. In 1985, Akira Yoshino succeeded in eliminating pure lithium from the battery, instead basing it wholly on lithium ions, which are safer than pure lithium. This made the battery workable in practice. Lithium-ion batteries have brought the greatest benefit to humankind, as they have enabled the development of laptop computers, mobile phones, electric vehicles and the storage of energy generated by solar and wind power.”

Read more about the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry here.

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