John Goudenough, lithium-ion battery creator passed away

John Goudenough, lithium-ion battery creator passed away


30 June 2023

One of the most significant technological scientists has passed away. Dr. John Goodenough, who is generally recognized as the inventor of the lithium-ion battery, has passed away at the age of 100, according to the University of Texas at Austin. Even while you may not be familiar with him, he is largely to blame for making electric cars, laptops, and cellphones possible.

Lithium batteries had previously been studied by researchers. For instance, Dr. M. Stanley Whittingham created a design that combines lithium and titanium disulfide. The New York Times points out that Goodenough made a significant advancement in 1980 while attending the University of Oxford. Using layers of lithium and cobalt oxide, he created a cathode that increased voltage while also being much safer. Compared to earlier batteries, including lead acid (used in cars) and nickel-cadmium (found in many portable electronics), it had a far higher capacity.

Before Dr. Akira Yoshino abandoned raw lithium in favor of safer lithium ions, the technology did not advance. For Asahi Kasei Corporation, the scientist created a useful design, and Sony provided the first easily usable rechargeable lithium-ion battery in 1991. You already know what followed: the enhanced performance made it possible for mobile devices that were either more portable or just not an option previously. While electric cars were now practical, smartphones and computers could get sleeker, faster, and last longer.

However, Goodenough was in charge of much more. He helped develop the technology that would eventually lead to the random access memory (RAM) you see in many computing products during his time at MIT in the 1950s and 1960s. He frequently distributed patents among his coworkers. Up until a few years ago, he was developing the next-generation battery technology that promised ground-breaking performance for renewable energy and electric vehicles. He was also an active researcher far into his nineties.

Despite being mostly unknown to the general public, Goodenough did get praise for his contributions. Among other honors, he was awarded the US National Medal of Science in 2011 and the Chemistry Nobel Prize in 2019.

Lithium-ion batteries are slowly being phased out by industry. Solid-state batteries from automakers will power EVs with better densities, faster charging, and lower costs. However, it's safe to say that Goodenough's contributions are what made the present tech landscape what it is, and his influence will probably be felt for many years to come.

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