Department of Chemistry

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford

The Department of Chemistry is delighted that the 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been jointly awarded to John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for the development of the lithium-ion rechargeable battery.

John Goodenough and his group pioneered the development of lithium transition metal oxide battery cathode materials in Oxford; without this work, and that of his co-recipients the rechargeable lithium-ion battery (and arguably the modern connected world) would not exist. His decade in charge of the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory at the University of Oxford (1976-1986) created a field of research that continues to thrive here in Oxford. Prof. Goodenough is further distinguished by making notable contributions to scientific knowledge in every decade since the 1950s, crossing disciplines and defining new ones. Into his 90’s he continues to be active in the development of compounds for battery anodes and cathodes.

Stan Whittingham was an undergraduate and graduate student in Inorganic Chemistry in Oxford, and his work on lithium titanium sulfide battery cathodes laid the foundations for Goodenough’s later developments.

Akira Yoshino’s contribution was to avoid the problem of using metallic lithium as the battery anode, enabling the full battery based on Goodenough’s high voltage lithium cobalt oxide cathode material to be realised. We all use these batteries today in mobile devices.

Nobel Prize Chemistry 2019

John B Goodenough, M Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino are the Nobel laureates in chemistry for 2019
Photograph: Niklas Elmehed/Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences