Nobel Prize in chemistry split three ways for work on lithium-ion batteries

Nobel Prize in chemistry split three ways for work on lithium-ion batteries
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Three scientists will share the 2019 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work developing lithium-ion batteries, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Wednesday.

The batteries in their larger forms have been used to power electric cars, while smaller versions have been used for portable devices such as cardiac defibrillators, according to the Times. Akira Yoshino, M. Stanley Whittingham and John Goodenough will share the prize. Goodenough, 97, is the oldest-ever Nobel winner.

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The batteries were developed as a result of the trio’s work in the 1970s and 1980s, and were instrumental to the development of lightweight, rechargeable batteries used for technology such as laptops and smartphones, according to The New York Times, as well as contributing to the development of renewable energy.

Whittingham developed the first functional lithium battery in the 1970s, while Goodenough improved upon the design by discovering cobalt oxide could produce a higher voltage, while Yoshino eliminated pure lithium from the battery and replaced it with more stable lithium ions.

Yoshino went on to create the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery for the Asahi Kasei Corporation.

Yoshino told reporters the news was “amazing” and “surprising” and that he was particularly pleased at his research’s potential to combat climate change.

“Climate change is a very serious issue for humankind,” he said, according to the Times, and called the batteries “suitable for a sustainable society.”

“Lithium-ion batteries are a great example of how chemistry can transform peoples’ lives,” Bonnie Charpentier, president of the American Chemical Society, told the Times. “It’s wonderful to see this work recognized by the Nobel Prize.”