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Developers of lithium-ion batteries win Nobel

Nobel chemistry winner John B. Goodenough at the Royal Society in London on Wednesday Associated Press/Photo by Alastair Grant

Developers of lithium-ion batteries win Nobel

A German-born engineering professor at the University of Texas became the oldest person ever to win a Nobel Prize at age 97 on Wednesday. John B. Goodenough shares the prize for chemistry with British-American chemistry professor M. Stanley Wittingham, 77, and Japanese scientist Akira Yoshino, 71.

What did the trio accomplish? Each made a breakthrough that laid the foundation for the portable and rechargeable lithium-ion battery, used today in technology ranging from mobile phones to cars. Wittingham harnessed lithium’s tendency to give away electrons to develop a battery in the 1970s. Goodenough figured out how to double the capacity of the battery by the 1980s. And Yoshino introduced a petroleum material into the battery’s anode, opening the door to the lightweight, safe, durable, and rechargeable commercial battery that hit the market in 1991.

Dig deeper: On Thursday, the Swedish Academy will give out two literature prizes because it canceled last year’s award—read why in Onize Ohikere’s report for The Sift. Then read about the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in physics in The Sift from Tuesday.

Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is a former assistant editor for WORLD Digital. She is a Patrick Henry College and World Journalism Institute graduate. Rachel resides with her husband in Wheaton, Ill.

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