On October 9, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced this afternoon that the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for their outstanding contributions to the development of lithium-ion batteries.
Whittingham once used titanium disulfide as a cathode material for lithium batteries. Goodenough proved in 1980 that cobalt oxide embedded in lithium-ion batteries could generate 4 volts, which became a major technological breakthrough in the history of lithium batteries. In 1985, Akira Yoshino launched the first commercially available lithium battery based on the cathode material discovered by Goodenough.
In fact, the 97-year-old Goodenough is also recognized as the “father of lithium batteries”. It can be said that without him, there would be no lithium batteries, no mobile phones and computers today, and no booming electric vehicles.
▲John B. Goodenough
It is worth noting that although Goodenough is 97 years old, he is still active in the academic front line. He goes to his laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin to work every day. His recent research projects are at the forefront of the battery field. solid-state battery technology—and hopefully revolutionize the use of electric vehicles.
In the summer of 2017, Goodenough and several experts published a paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, announcing that it had developed an all-solid-state battery prototype with high energy density, fast charging and long life.
Goodenough said at the time, “parameters such as cost, safety, energy density, charge-discharge rate, cycle life, etc., are critical to the popularization of electric vehicles. I believe that our findings will solve many problems with existing batteries. “
1. The 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to the three founders of lithium batteries
At around 5:45 p.m. today, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the last Nobel Prize in natural sciences in 2019 – the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
The 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to John B. Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for their foundational contributions to lithium-ion batteries.
▲The Nobel Prize official website announces the winner of the Chemistry Prize
Lithium batteries are based on the flow of lithium ions between the anode and the cathode to generate electric current. Whittingham, now a professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton, has used titanium disulfide as a lithium battery cathode material, which has a molecular level that can accommodate (intercalation) space for lithium ions.
Goodenough, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has predicted that lithium batteries will have greater potential if metal oxides rather than metal sulfides are used as cathode materials. He demonstrated in 1980 that cobalt oxide intercalated with lithium ions could generate voltages of up to 4 volts, thereby laying the technological foundation for making more powerful batteries.
In 1985, Japanese chemist Akira Yoshino, now a professor at Mingcheng University, launched the first commercially available lithium-ion battery based on the cathode of Goodenough lithium battery. In addition, Akira Yoshino did not use reactive lithium in anode materials. Instead, petroleum coke is used as the material.
Among the three scientists, the most eye-catching is Goodenough, known as the “father of lithium batteries”.
In academic terms, Goodenough developed the lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and at the same time he discovered the Goodenough-Kinson law, which can be used to determine the magnetic properties of superexchange materials symbol.
It is precisely because of Goodenough’s contribution in the field of lithium batteries that Goodenough has also been selected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, the French Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of Spain and the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, and is well-known in the academic world.
It is understood that between 1901 and 2018, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded 110 times, and a total of 181 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry. After today, the list of Nobel Chemistry Prizes will increase to 184. Of the 184 recipients, Goodenough is currently the oldest.
In fact, before the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, some media and scientists expected that Goodenough would win the prize, and it turned out to be the case.
Goodenough was reportedly born in Germany in 1922 and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Yale University in the United States in 1944. After World War II, Goodenough chose to pursue a doctorate, graduating from the University of Chicago in 1952.
2. The 97-year-old still insists on work The latest achievement is solid-state batteries
Goodenough is a “workaholic” in the scientific research circle. According to media reports, even in his 90s, he will start working around 7 am on weekdays and continue to work from home for a day and a half on weekends.
At this stage, its research focuses on the frontier field of lithium batteries – solid-state batteries.
In 2017, the official website of the University of Texas at Austin released a report, announcing that a team of engineers led by Goodenough had developed the world’s first all-solid-state electrolyte lithium battery, with safer, faster charging rates and longer use. Characteristics such as longevity have attracted widespread attention around the world.
The solid-state battery was described in a paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science by Goodenough and his team, Maria Helena Brag.
▲The official website of the University of Texas at Austin announced that the Goodenough team had developed an all-solid-state electrolyte lithium battery
The Goodenough team said that the energy density of this solid-state battery is at least three times that of a traditional lithium battery (that is, a battery of the same weight, a solid-state battery has three times the power of a traditional battery, which can be called a super battery. It also has the characteristics of long charging and discharging life and fast charging speed. According to the official website of the University of Texas at Austin, its charging speed is calculated in minutes rather than hours for traditional lithium batteries.
It is understood that traditional lithium batteries use a liquid electrolyte between the cathode and anode, in which lithium ions shuttle to store or release electricity. If the battery is charged too quickly, dendrites (metal whiskers) can form in the battery and cause a short circuit through the electrolyte, which can lead to fire or explosion.
In the study, Goodenough’s team replaced the traditional liquid electrolyte with a glass electrolyte. This electrolyte can use alkali metals as electrodes without dendrites.
It is the use of alkali metals as electrodes (which cannot be used in traditional batteries) that not only improves the energy density of solid-state battery cathodes, but also extends their charge and discharge life to more than 1,200 times.
More importantly, since this glass electrolyte still has high electrical conductivity in an environment of minus 20 degrees, a solid-state battery equipped with this electrolyte can allow electric vehicles to still work normally in a sub-zero environment, with a minimum of minus 60 degrees.
And lithium batteries equipped with ordinary liquid electrolytes, in extremely low temperature environment, the charge and discharge performance will be greatly reduced. To maintain good performance, it must be heated with an additional liquid temperature control system.
It should be pointed out that Goodenough pays particular attention to the application of this technology in the field of electric vehicles. When he published the paper, he clearly stated, “parameters such as cost, safety, energy density, charge and discharge rate, cycle life, etc. are crucial for the popularization of electric vehicles. I believe that our findings will solve many problems with existing batteries. .”
In this research and development process, a scholar named Maria Helena Brag also played an important role.
▲Maria Helena Brag
It is understood that Maria Helena Brag began to study solid electrolytes while working at the University of Porto in Portugal. In 2015, she began working with Goodenough and Andrew J. Murchison, two experts at the University of Texas at Austin.
Maria Helena Brag emphasized that it was Goodenough’s in-depth understanding of the composition and properties of solid-state glass electrolytes that allowed them to be used in batteries. At the same time, the technology commercialization office of the University of Texas at Austin has also applied for a patent on the technology.
In addition, the glass electrolyte simplifies the battery manufacturing process and solves the problem of raw material supply by allowing the use of sodium instead of lithium ions.
The University of Texas at Austin pointed out in this report that Goodenough plans to continue battery research, and then Goodenough and his team also hope to cooperate with battery manufacturers to develop electric vehicles and energy storage devices. The new batteries, which are all pretty good news for the electric car maker.
Conclusion: A New Hope for Electric Vehicles
Although the current electric vehicle industry is developing rapidly, battery technology is still at an awkward bottom. Low energy density leads to short cruising range, and charging speed is not as fast as fuel vehicles.
If electric vehicles want to develop further, the battery is a core problem to be solved.
Because of this, a series of large car companies such as BMW, Volkswagen, and Tesla are studying solid-state battery technology, hoping to achieve breakthroughs.
And with Goodenough and other experts also focusing on the field of solid-state batteries, it shows that this direction is the right way to solve the anxiety of electric vehicle mileage, and has ushered in the attention of a large number of top experts and scholars.
It is believed that it will not be long before solid-state batteries will enable electric vehicles to replace fuel vehicles.