STOCKHOLM: Three scientists have won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for putting power in peoples pockets by developing rechargeable lithium-ion batteries which made the global information technology, mobile and fossil-fuel free revolutions possible.
American John Goodenough, at 97, became the oldest winner of a Nobel prize and shares the $906,000 award equally with Stanley Whittingham from Britain and Akira Yoshino of Japan, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Nobel Committee said yesterday.
“Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionised our lives since they first entered the market in 1991. They have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil fuel-free society, and are of the greatest benefit to humankind,” the panel said.
With peals of infectious laughter, Goodenough asked reporters at a hastily called news conference in London to speak up with their questions so that his “old ears” could hear.
He had not been expecting to win a Nobel prize, he said, but was “very happy” to get it.
After Whittingham developed the first functional lithium battery in the early 1970s, Goodenough doubled the battery’s potential in the following decade. Yoshino then eliminated pure lithium from the battery, making it much safer to use. “I am happy that the lithium-ion battery won the prize in that context,” he said, adding that he also hoped it would inspire others.
Paul Coxon, a materials science expert from Britain’s Cambridge University, said lithium-ion batteries were now “the hidden workhorses of the mobile era”.