Binghamton University Professor Awarded Nobel Prize

Thursday, 10 Oct, 2019

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was jointly awarded to John B Goodenough, M Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino on Wednesday "for the development of lithium-ion batteries". "The seminal discoveries by this year's Nobel Laureates revealed the mechanism for one of life's most essential adaptive processes". He joins Peter Grünberg (2007 Nobel Prize in Physics, ), Shuij Nakamura (2014 Nobel Prize in Physics) and Stefan Hell (2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry;) in the ranks of alumni of the Award who have gone on to become Nobel Laureates. Each of the winners will get 9 million SEK (over $900,000).

Lithium-ion batteries have always been tipped for the award, not least since they have proved pivotal in the development of the high-tech world we inhabit.

Goodenough, an American who is 97 years old, graduated from Yale University in 1943 and spent some 20 years working at the MIT's Lincoln Labs, according to MIT and the University of Texas-Austin where he has been a professor since 1986. Then, a few Japanese companies jumped-in with developing actual products.

This year's Nobel season kicked off on Monday with the Medicine Prize, followed by the Physics Prize on Tuesday.

Li-ion batteries are a revolutionary modern technology used in almost everything - mobile phones, laptops, satellites, even electric vehicles. "It can also store significant amounts of energy from solar and wind power, making possible a fossil fuel-free society", concluded the press release. He replaced pure lithium with lithium ions, which are safer and made the batter workable.

Lithium-ion batteries are the first truly portable and rechargeable batteries, and took more than a decade to develop. He developed the first functional lithium battery in an attempt to eliminate the use of fossil fuel from the energy industry.

This material was titanium disulphide, which, at a molecular level, has spaces that can house lithium ions.

In his work, Whittingham harnessed the enormous tendency of lithium - the lightest metal - to give away its electrons to make a battery capable of generating just over two volts.

A Panasonic Corp staff poses with a lithium-ion battery, which is part of Tesla Motor Inc's Model S and Model X battery packs, in front of the chassis of a Tesla Model S during a news conference at the Panasonic Center in Tokyo, ahead of the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show in 2013.

John Goodenough theorized that a metal oxide cathode will produce better results rather than a metal sulphide.

This paved the way for far more powerful and durable batteries in the future. His work began with superconductors, eventually leading to the discovery of an extremely energy-rich material used to create a cathode in a lithium battery.