**John Goodenough, Inventor of the Lithium-Ion Battery, Dies at 100**
John Goodenough, the renowned scientist who shared the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his groundbreaking work on the development of the lithium-ion battery, passed away at the age of 100. The University of Texas, where he worked for nearly four decades, announced his death on Monday.
Goodenough’s Legacy and Contributions to Technology
Goodenough, along with British-born American scientist M. Stanley Whittingham and Japan’s Akira Yoshino, received the Nobel Prize for their collective efforts in creating the lithium-ion battery. This innovation revolutionized technology by providing rechargeable power for a wide range of devices, including cellphones, computers, pacemakers, and electric cars.
The Revolutionary Impact of Lithium-Ion Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries, developed over a span of more than ten years, were the first truly portable and rechargeable batteries. Their introduction marked a significant milestone in technology. Today, portable phones, tablets, and many other devices rely on these batteries for their power needs.
The Unexpected Impact of the Nobel-Winning Research
When Goodenough, Whittingham, and Yoshino began their research, they did not anticipate the profound impact their work would have on the world. Goodenough expressed his gratitude for being able to continue working past the traditional retirement age, stating that age should not limit one’s ability to achieve great things.
The Breakthrough Contributions of the Laureates
Each of the Nobel laureates made unique breakthroughs that paved the way for the development of a commercial rechargeable battery. Whittingham’s work in the 1970s involved utilizing the tendency of lithium to release its electrons, resulting in a battery capable of generating just over two volts.
Building upon Whittingham’s findings, Goodenough doubled the battery’s capacity to four volts in 1980 by introducing cobalt oxide as one of the cathode materials. However, this battery was still too volatile for widespread commercial use.
Yoshino’s Breakthrough in Battery Safety
In the 1980s, Yoshino’s research addressed the volatility issue by replacing pure lithium with safer lithium ions. This breakthrough made it possible to create lightweight, safe, durable, and rechargeable batteries suitable for commercial use. In 1991, these batteries entered the market, marking the beginning of a new era in portable electronic devices.
Goodenough’s Background and Achievements
Goodenough, born in Jena, Germany in 1922, moved to the United States, where he later obtained a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Chicago. He began his career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he laid the foundation for the development of random-access memory for digital computers.
His lithium-ion discovery, for which he ultimately received the Nobel Prize, took place when he was heading the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory at the University of Oxford in England. In 1986, Goodenough joined the faculty at the University of Texas, where he continued to teach and conduct research on battery materials and solid-state science and engineering.
A Long and Successful Partnership
Goodenough and his wife Irene were married for 70 years until her passing in 2016. Their partnership undoubtedly provided support and encouragement throughout Goodenough’s illustrious career.
John Goodenough’s contributions to the field of battery technology have left an indelible mark on the world. His work on the lithium-ion battery has transformed the way we live, powering our everyday devices and driving the electric vehicle revolution. As we mourn his passing, we can also celebrate his life and the lasting impact he has had on technology and society.