Professor John Goodenough

Professor John Goodenough

image john goodenough

The Department of Chemistry is saddened to share the news that Professor John Goodenough, Nobel Laureate and former Head of the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, has died aged 100.

Professor Goodenough was known around the world for his pioneering work that led to the invention of the lithium-ion battery. It was during his time in Oxford that he and his group conducted the ground-breaking research that led to the widespread use of lithium-ion batteries and a revolution in modern life. Working in the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory (ICL) with Koichi Mizushima, Phil Wiseman, and Phil Jones, Professor Goodenough expanded on previous work by M. Stanley Whittingham and found that by using LixCoO2 as a lightweight, high energy density cathode material, he could double the capacity of lithium-ion batteries.

The seminal work conducted at the ICL was commemorated in 2010 by a blue plaque from the Royal Society of Chemistry, designating the laboratory as a National Chemical Landmark. After his departure from Oxford, Professor Goodenough joined the University of Texas at Austin, where he continued to advance battery research. In 2019, at the age of 97, he became the oldest ever Nobel Laureate, winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with Akira Yoshino and Oxford alumnus M. Stanley Whittingham.

To celebrate Professor Goodenough’s 100th birthday in 2022, the University of Texas at Austin held a symposium attended by representatives of the US Department of Energy, leaders in battery research from around the world, and several former colleagues from Oxford, including Sir Tony Cheetham, Bill David, Peter Battle and Mike Thackeray.

Professor Simon Clarke said: “Members of the Oxford Chemistry community at all levels were inspired by John Goodenough’s achievement in developing lithium cobaltate as a viable Li-ion battery material, work which has given so many around the world access to technology and services on portable devices. Professor Goodenough also leaves a towering legacy in many other areas of fundamental and functional inorganic chemistry, having formulated an understanding of the interactions between magnetic ions in solids and made significant contributions to the development of RAM. His longevity in research will remain an inspiration to us.”


Image: US Embassy Sweden