Three Won Nobel Prize for Developing Lithium-ion Batteries

2019-10-10

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  • Three men who made rechargeable lithium-ion batteries possible have won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
  • 2
  • One of the scientists is 97-year-old John Goodenough, who became the oldest winner of a Nobel prize.
  • 3
  • Goodenough is a professor at The University of Texas at Austin.
  • 4
  • He will share the award with Stanley Whittingham, a professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and Akira Yoshino of Japan.
  • 5
  • Yoshino is a professor with Meijo University and a fellow with the Asahi Kasei Corporation.
  • 6
  • Sara Snogerup Linse is a member of the Nobel committee for chemistry.
  • 7
  • She said the three men "developed lightweight batteries...useful in many applications - truly portable electronics: mobile phones, pacemakers, but also long-distance electric cars."
  • 8
  • The invention of the lithium-ion battery has had a deep influence on modern life.
  • 9
  • It has made listening to music, watching television and communicating on electric devices something that can be done almost anywhere.
  • 10
  • Whittingham started his research into lithium batteries in the 1970s at a time when world oil prices were high and energy availability a big concern.
  • 11
  • He developed a battery that combined lithium and titanium disulfide.
  • 12
  • It could produce two volts of power, but it was too explosive to be useful.
  • 13
  • But the British-American researcher established that lithium ions could be held by a special material to create a lightweight battery.
  • 14
  • Goodenough found that combining lithium with cobalt oxide could produce a more powerful battery, one that produced four volts.
  • 15
  • His research was an important step in the development of more powerful and safer batteries.
  • 16
  • Using Goodenough's design as a starting point, Yoshino developed the first commercially available lithium-ion battery in 1985.
  • 17
  • Yoshino's design used a carbon-based material to hold lithium ions.
  • 18
  • That made the battery lightweight and able to be recharged many times.
  • 19
  • The Nobel committee said that lithium-ion batteries "have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil fuel-free society, and are of the greatest benefit to humankind."
  • 20
  • Yoshino spoke on Japanese television after hearing that he and the other winners were being recognized for helping the environment.
  • 21
  • "I am happy that (the) lithium-ion battery won the prize in that context," he said.
  • 22
  • Yoshino and Goodenough have developed a close relationship over the years.
  • 23
  • Yoshino said that Goodenough is like a father and he goes to Texas every year to see him.
  • 24
  • Gregory Offer is an expert in mechanical engineering at Imperial College London.
  • 25
  • He called the German-born Goodenough's work "one of the key enabling technologies of the 21st century."
  • 26
  • The three scientists will share the prize worth $918,000.
  • 27
  • They will receive their gold medals and be honored at the Nobel ceremony in Sweden on December 10.
  • 28
  • I'm Mario Ritter Jr.
  • 1
  • Three men who made rechargeable lithium-ion batteries possible have won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
  • 2
  • One of the scientists is 97-year-old John Goodenough, who became the oldest winner of a Nobel prize. Goodenough is a professor at The University of Texas at Austin. He will share the award with Stanley Whittingham, a professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and Akira Yoshino of Japan. Yoshino is a professor with Meijo University and a fellow with the Asahi Kasei Corporation.
  • 3
  • Sara Snogerup Linse is a member of the Nobel committee for chemistry. She said the three men "developed lightweight batteries...useful in many applications - truly portable electronics: mobile phones, pacemakers, but also long-distance electric cars."
  • 4
  • The invention of the lithium-ion battery has had a deep influence on modern life. It has made listening to music, watching television and communicating on electric devices something that can be done almost anywhere.
  • 5
  • Story of the lithium battery
  • 6
  • Whittingham started his research into lithium batteries in the 1970s at a time when world oil prices were high and energy availability a big concern. He developed a battery that combined lithium and titanium disulfide. It could produce two volts of power, but it was too explosive to be useful. But the British-American researcher established that lithium ions could be held by a special material to create a lightweight battery.
  • 7
  • Goodenough found that combining lithium with cobalt oxide could produce a more powerful battery, one that produced four volts. His research was an important step in the development of more powerful and safer batteries.
  • 8
  • Using Goodenough's design as a starting point, Yoshino developed the first commercially available lithium-ion battery in 1985. Yoshino's design used a carbon-based material to hold lithium ions. That made the battery lightweight and able to be recharged many times.
  • 9
  • The Nobel committee said that lithium-ion batteries "have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil fuel-free society, and are of the greatest benefit to humankind."
  • 10
  • Reaction to the announcement
  • 11
  • Yoshino spoke on Japanese television after hearing that he and the other winners were being recognized for helping the environment.
  • 12
  • "I am happy that (the) lithium-ion battery won the prize in that context," he said.
  • 13
  • Yoshino and Goodenough have developed a close relationship over the years. Yoshino said that Goodenough is like a father and he goes to Texas every year to see him.
  • 14
  • Gregory Offer is an expert in mechanical engineering at Imperial College London. He called the German-born Goodenough's work "one of the key enabling technologies of the 21st century."
  • 15
  • The three scientists will share the prize worth $918,000. They will receive their gold medals and be honored at the Nobel ceremony in Sweden on December 10.
  • 16
  • I'm Mario Ritter Jr.
  • 17
  • Mario Ritter Jr. adapted this story for VOA Learning English from Associated Press and Reuters reports. George Grow was the editor.
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  • _________________________________________________________________
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  • Words in This Story
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  • battery - n. a container made of one or more cells, in which chemical energy is used to create power
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  • fellow - n. a member of a group; a person appointed to a position for study or research
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  • application - n. use; a way of using something
  • 23
  • portable - adj. able to be carried or moved from place to place
  • 24
  • volt - n. a measurement of electrical force
  • 25
  • commercially - adv. related to being able to be sold to people and used widely
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  • benefit - n. something that produces helpful or good results
  • 27
  • context - n. additional information that helps explain some statement, action or incident
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