Remembering Lithium-Ion Battery Pioneer John Goodenough


Nobel Laureate John B. Goodenough, one of many inventors of the lithium-ion battery, died on 25 June at age 100.

Goodenough, a professor {of electrical} and pc engineering on the College of Texas at Austin, authored greater than 800 technical papers throughout his profession. He and his colleagues have been not too long ago granted a U.S. patent, shortly earlier than his a centesimal birthday.

A mathematician and physicist by schooling, Goodenough had a 70-year profession in physics and chemistry. He most likely is greatest identified for growing the lithium cobalt oxide cathode in 1980—which grew to become the muse for Sony’s first industrial lithium-ion battery in 1991.

For that, he gained a 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, sharing the award with M. Stanley Whittingham, who created the lithium-ion idea, and Akira Yoshino, who developed the anode chemistry that was utilized in Sony’s first lithium-ion battery.

Goodenough was awarded the 2012 IEEE Medal for Environmental and Security Applied sciences for discoveries that “paved the best way for growth of the rechargeable lithium-ion battery know-how.”

Beginning within the Nineties, his lithium cobalt oxide cathode was utilized in many digital merchandise together with camcorders, laptop computer computer systems, and cell phones. It later grew to become the chemistry of alternative for early electrical vehicles together with the 2008 Tesla Roadster.

Throughout the battery neighborhood, Goodenough is understood for extra than simply lithium cobalt oxide, although. He helped develop three of the 5 mostly used forms of lithium-ion chemistries. His first was lithium cobalt oxide. His second, lithium manganese oxide, is utilized in energy instruments, medical units, and a few electrical autos. His third, lithium iron phosphate, is now one of the crucial widespread battery chemistries within the automotive trade.

Overcoming struggles with dyslexia

Born in Jena, Germany, Goodenough grew up in Woodbridge, Conn., about 13 kilometers from Yale, the place his father was a faith professor.

Goodenough was dyslexic and struggled to learn—which just about induced him to be held again within the sixth grade.

“I used to be so pissed off that I couldn’t learn,” he wrote in his memoir, Witness to Grace. “And, after all, my [older] brother learn very well, and my father was a professor with a whole lot of books to learn. It was horrible.”

Goodenough taught himself to learn and have become a high-achieving scholar in highschool. However even after gaining acceptance to Yale, he stated, he steered away from all programs with lengthy studying lists, fearing that he wouldn’t be capable of sustain.

After graduating in 1943 with a bachelor’s diploma in arithmetic, Goodenough joined the U.S. Military. He labored as a meteorologist and was tasked with predicting the climate for the Allies’ D-Day invasion.

Following World Warfare II, he pursued a doctorate in physics on the College of Chicago. He studied below Enrico Fermi, the physicist who created the world’s first nuclear chain response, and Edward Teller, the so-called “father of the hydrogen bomb.” His doctoral supervisor was Clarence Zener, whose diode famously allowed present to circulation in reverse.

After Goodenough earned a Ph.D. in 1952 in solid-state physics, he joined MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, in Lexington, Mass., as a researcher. He was a part of a group there that developed the world’s first random-access magnetic reminiscence. His potential to cross disciplines began at MIT.

“At Lincoln Lab, with a purpose to clear up issues, we needed to carry physics and chemistry along with engineering,” he stated throughout an interview in 2016.

Photo of an olderman in a tie in front of a flowered tree.  Goodenough developed the lithium-ion battery whereas serving because the appointed head of Oxford’s inorganic chemistry laboratory.The College of Texas at Austin

In 1976 he moved to England to work at Oxford, the place he was appointed head of its inorganic chemistry laboratory, regardless of little formal chemistry coursework. It was there that Goodenough made his mark whereas engaged on a chargeable lithium battery with Koichi Mizushima, a postdoctoral researcher.

Exxon researcher Whittingham had developed a lithium titanium disulfide battery within the Nineteen Seventies; Goodenough determined to exchange the titanium disulfide with lithium cobalt oxide. It gave the battery a big voltage increase: from 2.4 to 4 volts. The upper voltage made his new battery chemistry virtually not possible to disregard.

Goodenough patented his battery in 1980, signing away his monetary declare to it with a purpose to fund the patent.

Sony produced its first industrial lithium-ion battery in 1991 utilizing Goodenough’s and Mizushima’s cobalt oxide cathode. The corporate initially employed the battery in its Handycam, and the lithium-ion know-how quickly made its method into billions of cell phones and laptop computer computer systems.

Whereas nonetheless at Oxford in 1981, Goodenough labored with Michael M. Thackeray on a lithium manganese oxide battery. The LMO battery was cheaper and safer to make use of than lithium cobalt oxide, and it grew to become a mainstay in instruments and medical units. In 2010 Nissan used it in its Leaf electrical automobile.

Goodenough moved again to the US in 1986 and joined the College of Texas at Austin as a professor of mechanical engineering. He labored on one other lithium-ion chemistry there in 1995: lithium iron phosphate.

At first, he had little confidence within the chemistry, pondering it was too low in vitality. However French battery scientist Michel Armand referred to as Goodenough and provided to collaborate on it. The duo created a lithium-ion battery with decrease voltage but in addition decrease price and better security.

Twenty-five years later, the battery is gaining momentum within the auto trade as a method of lowering the price of electrical vehicles. In the present day it’s being employed by Chinese language EV producers together with BYD, in addition to by Ford, Basic Motors, and Tesla.

A group photo of three men.  Goodenough [left] shared the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Akira Yoshino [middle] and M. Stanley Whittingham. Yoshino developed the anode chemistry that was utilized in Sony’s first lithium-ion battery and Whittingham created the lithium-ion idea.Alexander Mahmoud/Nobel Media

The Nobel Prize and different accolades

Throughout his 70-year profession, Goodenough acquired quite a few awards. Along with the Nobel Prize, he acquired the 2011 U.S. Nationwide Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.

Goodenough’s different honors included the Royal Society’s 2019 Copley Medal, a 2014 Charles Stark Draper Prize from the Nationwide Academy of Engineering, the 2001 Japan Prize, the 2018 Benjamin Franklin Medal, and a 2009 Enrico Fermi Award.

He was a member of the Nationwide Academy of Engineering, the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, the French Academy of Sciences, and the Nationwide Academy of Sciences in India.

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