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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