The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded Wednesday to John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for the development of lithium-ion batteries.
“We have gained access to a technical revolution,” said Sara Snogerup Linse, a chemistry professor and member of the award committee, sweeping her finger at the reporters gathered at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries provide energy to mobile phones, pacemakers and electric cars.
“This is a highly charged story with tremendous potential,” said committee member Olof Ramström, a professor of chemistry at Linnaeus University. These batteries are increasingly used to store power from sources that fluctuate, such as solar and wind energy.
The scientists tamed the element lithium, a soft, silver-white metal that was formed in the first few minutes after the Big Bang. Pure lithium is so reactive that it must be kept in oil. The element fizzes and belches gas when it touches water. That reactivity, packed into a small volume, gives lithium its “enormously attractive” properties, Ramström said.
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