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lithium ion batteries

Three scientists awarded Nobel Prize for work on lithium-ion batteries

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The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to three scientists, one of whom originates from the UK, for their work on developing lithium-ion batteries.

This type of battery is commonplace and is used extensively in everything from smartphones to electric vehicles.

Important advances in the field were made by Nobel winners John Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino in the 1970s and 80s. This ultimately led to commercialisation of the technology in 1991 by Japanese tech giant Sony. American Goodenough, at 97, becomes the oldest winner of a Nobel prize.

“This rechargeable battery laid the foundation of wireless electronics such as mobile phones and laptops,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement on awarding the 9 million Swedish crown (£741,000) prize.

“It also makes a fossil-fuel-free world possible, as it is used for everything from powering electric cars to storing energy from renewable sources.”

Whittingham developed the first functional lithium battery in the early 1970s. Goodenough doubled the battery’s potential in the following decade and Yoshino eliminated pure lithium from the battery, making it much safer to use.

The Nobel committee said the lithium-ion battery has its roots in the oil crisis in the 1970s, when Whittingham was working to develop methods aimed at leading to fossil-fuel-free energy technologies.

Last year’s Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three scientists responsible for their work developing “optical tweezers”, which allow for the manipulation of tiny particles using highly focused lasers.

The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were created and funded in the will of Swedish dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901.

The Nobel prizes for medicine and physics were awarded earlier this week. The awards for literature, peace and economics will be announced in the next few days.

Americans William G Kaelin Jr and Gregg L Semenza and Britain’s Peter J Ratcliffe won the Nobel Prize for advances in physiology or medicine on Monday.

They were cited for their discoveries of “how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability”.

Two literature laureates are to be announced on Thursday, because last year’s award was suspended after a scandal rocked the Swedish Academy.

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