John B Goodenough of the University of Texas at Austin, M Stanley Whittingham of Binghamton University and Akira Yoshino of Meijo University will receive equal shares of the 9m Swedish kronor (£74o,000) prize, which was announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm on Wednesday. At 97 years old, Goodenough is the oldest laureate to receive a Nobel prize in any discipline.
Lithium-ion batteries have long been tipped for the award, not least since they have proved pivotal in the development of the high-tech world we inhabit. Far lighter and more compact that earlier types of rechargeable battery, they are found in everything from mobile phones to laptops and electric cars.
This is the 111th Nobel prize in chemistry – the first was awarded in 1901. Only five women have been awarded the prize, and only one person – Frederick Sanger – has won it twice (although Marie Curie and Linus Pauling both won a Nobel prize in chemistry and a Nobel prize in another category).
Prof Saiful Islam, a researcher in the field at the University of Bath and who gave the 2016 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, welcomed the news, saying the trio’s work helped to power the portable revolution.
“In my view, this award is long overdue and it’s great to see that this important area of materials chemistry has been recognised,” he said.
On Monday, William Kaelin, Sir Peter Ratcliffe and Gregg Semenza won the 2019 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine for their work on understanding how cells adapt to low levels of oxygen, and on Tuesday the physics prize was shared between James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz for their work on cosmology and the discovery of the first exoplanet.
Two literature awards are being given this year as last year’s prize was postponed in light of a scandal that resulted in a rape conviction – they will be announced on Thursday. The peace prize winner will be announced on Friday, followed by economics on Monday.
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