APS News

2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Two APS members share this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry

October 9, 2019 | Leah Poffenberger

Two APS members are among the recipients of 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The prize is awarded to APS Fellow John B. Goodenough (The University of Texas At Austin), APS Life Member M. Stanley Whittingham (Binghamton University; State University of New York), and Akira Yoshino (Asahi Kasei Corporation; Meijo University) for development of lithium-ion batteries.

Goodenough, Whittingham, and Yoshino will share the prize equally for their separate breakthroughs that contributed to the creation of the rechargeable batteries that power much of today’s technology. Lithium-ion batteries also play an important role in the viability of renewable energy use, providing storage for solar and wind power, and powering long-range electric cars. As such, the technology is poised to play an increasing role in mitigating the effects of energy use on climate change.

"The development of lithium battery technology has had far-ranging effects in nearly all walks of life," said APS CEO Kate Kirby. "We are delighted that APS Fellow John Goodenough, APS Life Member M. Stanley Whittingham, and Akira Yoshino have been recognized for their pioneering work."

Whittingham began developing the modern lithium-ion battery during the 1970s oil crisis in a bid to create energy technology free from fossil fuels. He discovered that titanium disulphide made an ideal cathode for a lithium battery. Coupled with the metallic lithium anode, his work resulted in a powerful—although reactive and potentially explosive—battery.

Goodenough, a solid-state physicist, also wanted to contribute to the development of alternative energy storage systems in the 1970s. Building on Whittingham’s initial design, Goodenough recognized that a metal oxide could replace titanium disulphide for more powerful, and more stable, batteries. He discovered that cobalt dioxide was the ideal cathode resulting in lighter-weight, high-capacity batteries.

Yoshino made the final breakthrough that resulted in the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in 1985. He replaced the reactive lithium anode with a carbon material called petroleum coke, which could store lithium ions in a stable manner. His work resulted in a safer high-capacity battery that can be charged hundreds of times.

The Nobel Prize, first awarded in 1901, is widely considered the highest honor in science, economics, and literature. The 2019 Nobel Laureates will be awarded medals at a ceremony in December, along with 9 million Swedish krona (just over $US 1 million), which will be shared equally between Goodenough, Whittingham, and Yoshino.

News Update Archive

View Archive

APS News

Read Current Issue

Recent News Update
APS Board Approves New Statements on Racism, New START Treaty, and Nuclear Testing
At its virtual meeting near the end of July, the APS Board of Directors approved three new Board Statements.
2020 APS Fall Prize & Award Recipients
APS announces its 2020 Fall Prizes and Awards in fluid dynamics, nuclear physics, and plasma physics.
ICE Reverses Directive on International Student Visas
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has rescinded its July 6 Directive that would have forced international students to leave the country if their campus offered online-only classes this fall due to the ongoing pandemic.
APS Files Amicus Brief Opposing ICE’s July 6 Directive on International Student Visas
APS and 16 other scientific societies, including AIP, AAAS, and The Optical Society, have formally pledged their support for the lawsuit brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to block US Immigration and Customs Enforcement from canceling visas of international students unable to take in-person classes because of the pandemic.
APS and Max Planck Society Partner on “Read and Publish” Open Access Pilot
On July 7, APS announced a new aspect of its partnership with the Max Planck Society (MPG) in Germany allowing open access publication of research papers in APS journals at no direct cost to MPG researchers.
APS Condemns Recent Rule Change by ICE
The APS leadership expresses its outrage at the recent rule change by ICE to cancel F-1 and M-1 visas for students studying off-campus because of the pandemic emergency.