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Scientists Win Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Developing the Lithium-Ion Battery

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It’s both the bane of our existence and a godsend. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery powers most of our devices from smartphones to laptops to electric cars. And the three men who were integral to its development have just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Iphone Cases.

John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino will share this year’s Nobel “for the development of lithium-ion batteries,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said this morning.

Whittingham, of Binghamton University, State University of New York, while developing technologies for fossil fuel-free energy, discovered an energy-rich material that he used to create a cathode (negatively charged electrode) in a lithium-ion battery. When looked at on the molecular level, that cathode — made from titanium disulfide — had little nooks where lithium ions could hide out. The resulting battery, with metallic lithium as the anode, created 2 volts of power LG Cases.
“However, metallic lithium is reactive and the battery was too explosive to be viable,” the Nobel Prize foundation said in a statement.

Goodenough, of The University of Texas at Austin, created a similar battery using cobalt oxide (also with little lithium ions hidden in its empty spaces) as the cathode, resulting in as much as 4 volts of power. “This was an important breakthrough and would lead to much more powerful batteries,” the Nobel Prize foundation said.

Then, building on Goodenough’s cathode, Yoshino “created the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in 1985,” the Nobel Prize foundation said. Yoshino, who is at the Asahi Kasei Corporation, Tokyo, and Meijo University, Nagoya, Japan, switched out the material for the anode. Instead of metallic lithium, he used a carbon material called petroleum coke that can hide lithium ions in its molecular spaces LG Cases.

This battery doesn’t rely on chemical reactions as others had and instead relies on the flow of lithium ions between the anode and cathode. The result? A lightweight battery that can be charged hundreds of times before its performance takes a hit.