The prize was awarded to John Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for the development of lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are in everything from cellphones, such as iPhones, to laptops and electric vehicles, such as Teslas. They have revolutionised our lives, laying the foundation for a fossil-fuel-free society and future of energy. The story of how this battery was made illustrates what it takes to develop a technology that truly makes a difference in people’s lives.
In the early 1970s, Stanley Whittingham developed the first functional lithium battery. Whittingham is a key figure in the history of the development of lithium batteries, discovering the concept of intercalation electrodes.
Exxon manufactured in 1970s Whittington rechargeable lithium battery, which was based on a titanium disulfide cathode and a lithium-aluminium anode. However, this rechargeable lithium battery could never be made practical. John Goodenough made it more powerful and useful.
In 1980, John Goodenough and his team, working at Oxford University, figured out that a cobalt oxide cathode would make for a more stable battery. During his time as Head of the Inorganic Chemistry Department at Oxford, Professor Goodenough, along with Koichi Mizushima, Philip C Jones and Philip J Wiseman, identified the cathode material that enabled the development of the rechargeable lithium-ion battery.