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Nobel Prize in Chemistry honors work on lithium-ion batteries



John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino jointly received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of light-weight lithium-ion batteries, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Wednesday in Stockholm.

"Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized our lives and are being used in all areas, from mobile phones to laptops and electric vehicles," the Nobel Prize committee said in a statement after the announcement. "With their work, this year's award winners have laid the foundation for a wireless society without fossil fuels."

Professor Whittingham began developing methods for fossil-fuel-less power generation technologies in the 1970s and discovered a cathode – or type of electrical conductor through which electrons move – in a lithium battery. His discovery led to the first functional lithium battery.

The two other scientists developed new innovations based on this battery.

Professor Goodenough discovered that the cathode would have greater potential if made with a different material, and showed that cobalt oxide with embedded lithium ions could produce a higher voltage.

Professor Yoshino then removed pure lithium from the battery and instead used only safer lithium ions. He created in 1985 the first commercially available lithium-ion battery.

Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized electronics – and our lives – since their launch in 1991. Discoveries have led to the development of sustainable and renewable batteries that were light enough to make portable electronics an integral part of modern life.

The batteries help mitigate the effects of climate change by enabling a switch from fossil fuels to renewable and sustainable forms.

"The development of these batteries is a big step forward, so we can really save solar and wind energy," said Sara Snogerup Linse, chairwoman of the Nobel Committee on Chemistry.


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