Lithium-Ion Battery Inventor and Nobel Laureate John B. Goodenough Dies at 100

Lithium-Ion Battery Inventor and Nobel Laureate John B. Goodenough Dies at 100
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Inventor of the lithium-ion battery that revolutionized mobile electronic devices, John B. Goodenough died on Sunday (25), at the age of 100. Unstoppable, the scientist followed his profession throughout his ninth decade of life and became the oldest person to receive a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2019, at the age of 97.

The University of Texas, where he was a professor of engineering, announced his death on Monday (26). “Goodenough was a dedicated public servant, a sought-after mentor and a brilliant but humble inventor,” the statement reads.

John B. Goodenough holding a lithium-ion battery (Image: University of Texas)

The son of a woman with whom he never had much contact and an agnostic professor of religion at Yale University, Goodenough lived a lonely and difficult childhood due to dyslexia. At age 12, he was sent to a private boarding school.

He studied Latin and Greek at Groton School in Massachusetts, majored in mathematics at Yale University, and studied meteorology in the Army Air Forces during World War II. In 1952, he received a doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago.

In the same year, he began his career at the Lincoln Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked for 24 years and laid the groundwork for the development of random access memory (RAM) currently used in computers.

(Image: University of Texas)

Goodenough achieved success with lithium-ion batteries in 1980. At that time, the world was taking another step towards freeing itself from energy sources based on fossil fuels, and from the 1990s onwards, the invention began to power cell phones, notebooks , medical devices, electric cars and various other products.

The scientist was 97 years old and was still active in research at the University of Texas when he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing the lithium-ion battery. Goodenough shared the $900,000 prize with Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino, who also contributed to the invention.

Throughout his advanced age, the inventor had been exploring new possibilities for energy storage. One of the projects aimed to transport wind, solar and nuclear energy, something that, according to him, would transform the electrical grid of the entire US territory. In total, Goodenough has written eight books and over 800 papers for scientific journals.

Currently, scientists are trying to make the lithium-ion battery more powerful in order to meet the energy demands of today’s technological products. Some researchers are also developing batteries with other anodes and cathodes that may, like Goodenough, revolutionize the market for mobile electronic devices.

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