Lithium-Ion battery earns Nobel for its inventors

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry rewards the development of lithium-ion batteries. The Prize is jointly awarded to the 97-year-old Dr John B. Goodenough of The University of Texas at  ustin in the United States, the 77-year-old  Dr M. Stanely Whittingham of Binghamton University, State University of New York, the USA, and the 71-year-old  .

Dr Akiro Yoshino of Meijo University, Nagoya, Japan. The Nobel laureates will also share the prize money of 9 million Swedish kronor. “Being born in 1922, Dr. John B. Good enough is the oldest Nobel Laureate ever awarded a prize” [1] stated Professor Göran K. Hansson, Secretary-General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

As tweeted by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in the early 1970s, Dr M. Stanley Whittingham used lithium’s enormous drive to release its outer electron when he developed the  irst functional lithium battery. 

The lithium-ion battery designed by Dr. M. Stanley Whittingham had a titanium disulfide cathode and a lithium metal anode, as illustrated here. Dr. John B. Goodenough and Dr. Akira  oshino improved on the technology by replacing the cathode and anode with lithium cobalt oxide and graphite, respectively. Credit: Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

To make the battery durable, its inventors solved numerous chemical challenges to tame the reactive elements and to build the Anode and Cathode between which the Lithium ions could repeatedly travel in a controlled fashion while being used and recharged.

In the 1980s, Dr John B. Goodenough introduced cobalt oxide [2]  instead of titanium disulphide as the cathode. This doubled the lithium battery’s potential as more power could be drawn from the cobalt oxide cathode. Later, Akira Yoshino made the battery workable in practice by replacing the pure lithium metal anode in the battery with “lithium ions and electrons  oused within a carbon material called petroleum coke”.[2]

Despite having a long history, lithium-ion batteries are very much modern relevant technology. The lightweight batteries of high potential are useful in many applications including portable electronics like mobile phones, pacemakers, laptops, and also in bigger equipment like long-distance electric cars.  

The research of the Nobel Laureates has triggered the commercial manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries by opening up the limitless scope for the birth of innumerable nuances that are  owered by these energy repositories that become constant sources of power by assimilating and complementing the energy from fluctuating sources like solar and wind-power systems.

No wonder the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has rightly credited the inventors by asserting, “Through their work, this year’s Chemistry Laureates have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil-fuel-free society” [3]  Notwithstanding, the much-expected recognition of the invention of lithium-ion batteries comes as a tremendous encouragement for scientists aspiring to enrich mankind with more powerful compact energy sources.

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