I woke up today to some exciting news. Friends and colleagues, some of whom I hadn’t spoken to in decades, were writing to say that the Nobel Prize committee had finally recognized one of the biggest influences in modern times- the invention of the Li-ion battery. Three scientists received the award: M. Stanley Wittingham for the basic concept, John Goodenough for the cathode material and Akira Yoshino for the anode material, were awarded the prize for their research and dedication to finding a battery that is finally replacing lead acid battery technology that has been in use for hundreds of years. This battery is key to our modern lives, in everything from cell phones to ventilators, but it is also going to be crucial to our future lives; we need batteries to store energy in a non-fossil fuel based world.
It’s a well-deserved nod our to industry, but for me, it’s also personal. I was a PhD student of John Goodenough’s in the early 2000s, just when Li-ion technology was adopted for lap top computers and cell phones. At the time, Goodenough was better known for his work in magnetism and super conductivity. He was in his seventies and had stories about his time at the University of Chicago and taking his wife to the lectures of Enrico Fermi and his own thesis advisor, Clarence Zener. He was a map reader during World War II and a theologist. Goodenough is now 97 and the oldest Nobel Prize recipient ever. I am honored by reflection.
Official press release: https://www.kva.se/en/pressrum/pressmeddelanden/nobelpriset-i-kemi-2019