John Bannister Goodenough, internationally recognized as one of the key minds behind the development of the first commercial lithium-ion battery, has been awarded the Royal Society’s Copley Medal, the world’s oldest scientific prize.

The longtime ECS fellow and honorary member was recognized for his exceptional contributions to the materials science field, still used in mobile electronics today, including laptops and smartphones all around the world. The award ties him to an elite group of equally notable scientists and engineers, including the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, Albert Einstein, and Dorothy Hodgkin.

“Words are not sufficient to express my appreciation for this award,” said Goodenough, in a Royal Society interview. “My ten years at Oxford were transformative for me, and I thank especially those who had the imagination to invite a U.S. non-academic physicist to come to England to be a Professor and Head of the Oxford Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory. I regret that age and a bad leg prevent my travel back to England to celebrate such a wonderful surprise.”

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Electric VehicleIn 1888, German inventor Andreas Flocken created what is widely considered the world’s first electric car. According to The Battery Issue, recently published by The Verge, the 900-pound vehicle drove at the top speed of nine miles per hour, coming to a halt after a two and a half hour test ride. Although it was considered a success, it wasn’t entirely. The car’s battery, sustainably charged with water power, had died.

Today, nearly 130 years, German carmakers are still having trouble with their batteries – specifically with battery cells. As a result, car companies are relying on suppliers from China, Korea, and Japan for the highly needed component.

“Cells can be a major technology differentiator and cells are the by far most costly part of the battery pack,” says Martin Winter, a professor of materials science, energy, and electrochemistry at the University of Münster and ECS Battery Division and Europe Section member. Winter says a large scale production of battery cells by European or German companies will be crucial in order to take part in the “enormous and rapidly growing market.”

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John Goodenough may be 94-years old, but he shows no sign of slowing down. Now, the co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery has developed the first all-solid-state battery cells that could result in safer, longer-lasting batteries for everything from electric cars to grid energy storage.

“Cost, safety, energy density, rates of charge and discharge and cycle life are critical for battery-driven cars to be more widely adopted,” Goodenough says in a statement. “We believe our discovery solves many of the problems that are inherent in today’s batteries.”

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ECS Podcast – The Battery Guys

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the commercialization of the lithium-ion battery. To celebrate, we sat down with some of the inventors and pioneers of Li-ion battery technology at the PRiME 2016 meeting.

Speakers John Goodenough (University of Texas at Austin), Stanley Whittingham (Binghamton University), Michael Thackeray (Argonne National Laboratory), Zempachi Ogumi (Kyoto University), and Martin Winter (Univeristy of Muenster) discuss how the Li-ion battery got its start and the impact it has had on society.

Listen to the podcast and download this episode and others for free through the iTunes Store, SoundCloud, or our RSS Feed. You can also find us on Stitcher.

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John B. Goodenough

Goodenough was recently named Fellow of ECS at the PRiME 2016 meeting.

John B. Goodenough is recognized internationally as one of the key minds behind the development of the lithium-ion battery; a device that is used to power a huge percentage of today’s electronics and a technology that helped shape the technological frontier.

In a recent interview with the BBC’s Today program’s John Humphrys, the man who helped make the mobile phone possible discusses battery safety in light of exploding Samsung batteries, the Nobel Prize, and his why he doesn’t like cellphones.

“I see the students running around, punching these little tablets, and not talking with one another,” Goodenough says. “I see people going out to dinner and not talking to their partner, rather sitting there talking to someone on their phone, I say, ‘Well, that’s not the way to live.’ Technology is morally neural, it’s what we do with technology that judges us.”

Listen to the full interview here.

Goodenough’s Big Idea for the Li-Ion Battery

Many of the most influential people of our time are also the most obscure. Take John Goodenough, for example. While he may not be a household name, everyday devices such as laptops and smartphones exist because of his work on lithium-ion batteries.

But even in his 90s, Goodenough isn’t done yet. He’s already invented the lithium-ion’s nervous system, which houses the cobalt-oxide cathode. This is the most important part of every lithium-ion battery, but Goodenough isn’t satisfied with this major scientific feat. Now, he’s looking to go one step further.

This from Quartz:

Today, at 92, Goodenough still goes to his smallish office every day at the University of Texas at Austin. That, he says, is because he’s not finished. Thirty-five years after his blockbuster, the electric car still can’t compete with the internal combustion engine on price. When solar and wind power produce electricity, it must be either used immediately or lost forever—there is no economic stationary battery in which to store the power. Meanwhile, storm clouds are gathering: Oil is again cheap but, like all cyclical commodities, its price will go back up. The climate is warming and becoming generally more turbulent.

Essentially, Goodenough is looking to create a super-battery.

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