October 29, 2019Catherine McCarthy, Science Museum of Minnesota
The 2019 Nobel prizes were recently announced and one of the NISE Network NanoDays partners Stan Whittingham at Binghamton University, NY was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on lithium ion batteries.
Lithium ion batteries are able to hold a charge much longer than earlier generations of rechargeable batteries; these batteries are now used everywhere for electronics, power tools, and cars. Whittingham began this work in a quest for fossil-free energy systems. The Nobel committee stated: "This lightweight, rechargeable and powerful battery is now used in everything from mobile phones to laptops and electric vehicles. It can also store significant amounts of energy from solar and wind power, making possible a fossil fuel-free society."
Whittingham was surprised to learn about the Nobel prize while he was attending a battery conference in Germany. Speaking of batteries, his wife Georgina (a Spanish and Latin American literature professor at SUNY Oswego in NY) was the last in his family to get the news about the Nobel prize because her phone battery was turned off for Yom Kippur.
Read Binghamton University's full announcement:
For those who want to know more about lithium ion batteries:
- American Chemical Society's (ACS) Reactions video (2016) about how these batteries work: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/reactions/videos/2016/how-to-keep-your-phone-battery-charged-longer.html
- Periodic Videos features British chemists explaining how lithium ion batteries work and cutting them up - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy1BhVhpGN0
- Local NPR radio station interview with Stan Whittingham explaining how lithium ion battery was created and its future: https://wskg.org/news/nobel-laureate-explains-how-lithium-ion-battery-was-created-and-its-future/