XX Century

John Bannister Goodenough

(July 25, 1922) is an American materials scientist, a solid-state physicist, and a Nobel laureate in chemistry. He is a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Texas at Austin. He is widely credited with the identification and development of the lithium-ion battery, for developing the Goodenough–Kanamori rules in determining the sign of the magnetic superexchange in materials, and for seminal developments in computer random access memory.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, he continued his career as head of the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory at University of Oxford. Among his work at Oxford, Goodenough has been credited with significant research essential to the development of commercial lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. Goodenough was able to expand upon previous work from M. Stanley Whittingham on battery materials, and found in 1980 that by using LixCoO2 as a lightweight, high energy density cathode material, he could double the capacity of lithium-ion batteries. Goodenough’s work was commercialized through Sony by Akira Yoshino, who had contributed additional improvements to the battery construction. Goodenough received the Japan Prize in 2001 for his discoveries of the materials critical to the development of lightweight high energy density rechargeable lithium batteries, and he, Whittingham, and Yoshino shared the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their research in lithium-ion batteries.

Since 1986, Goodenough has been a Professor at The University of Texas at Austin. During his tenure there, he has continued his research on ionic conducting solids and electrochemical devices; he stated that he continued to study improved materials for batteries to help promote the development of electric vehicles and help reduce the dependency on fossil fuels. His group has identified lithium-based materials that do not rely on cobalt, such as lithium-manganese oxides that are used today for most electric vehicle batteries, and lithium-iron phosphates that are used for smaller devices like power tools. His group has also identified various promising electrode and electrolyte materials for solid oxide fuel cells

Goodenough still works at the university, hoping to find another breakthrough in battery technology.

On February 28, 2017 Goodenough and his team at the University of Texas published a paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science on their demonstration of a glass battery, a low-cost all-solid-state battery that is noncombustible and has a long cycle life with a high volumetric energy density, and fast rates of charge and discharge. Instead of liquid electrolytes, the battery uses glass electrolytes that enable the use of an alkali-metal anode without the formation of dendrites. Goodenough and colleague Maria Helena Braga hold a patent via University of Texas for solid-state electrolytes and they continue to advance battery-related research, working on several more patents.

In 2010, Goodenough joined the technical advisory board of Irvine, California-based Enevate, a silicon-dominant Li-ion battery technology startup. Goodenough also currently serves as an adviser to the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), a collaboration led by Argonne National Laboratory and funded by the Department of Energy. Since 2016 Goodenough has also worked as an adviser for Battery500, a national consortium led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and partially funded by the Department of Energy.


Lewis Frederick Urry

(January 29, 1927 – October 19, 2004) was a Canadian chemical engineer and inventor. He invented both the modern alkaline battery and lithium battery while working for the Eveready Battery company.

Urry was born January 29, 1927, in Pontypool, Ontario and graduated with a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Toronto in 1950.

In 1955 Urry was dispatched to the company’s laboratory in Parma, Ohio in order to discover a way of extending the life span of the zinc-carbon battery. The low longevity of these batteries had been seriously damaging sales. Urry realized that developing a new battery would be more cost-effective than developing the old ones further.

Throughout the 1950s many engineers had experimented with alkaline batteries but nobody had been able to develop a longer running battery which was worth the higher cost of production. Urry, after testing a number of materials, discovered that manganese dioxide and solid zinc worked well coupled with an alkaline substance as an electrolyte. His main problem was that the battery could not provide enough power. Urry managed to overcome this problem by using powdered zinc.

On October 9, 1957, Lewis Urry, Karl Kordesch, and P.A. Marsal filed US patent (2,960,558) for this revolutionary alkaline dry cell battery with a powdered zinc gel anode. It was granted in 1960 and assigned to Union Carbide Corporation.

In order to sell the idea to his managers, Urry put the battery in a toy car and raced it round the canteen against a similar car with one of the older batteries. His new invention had many times the durability, and Eveready began production of Urry’s design in 1959. In 1980 the brand was renamed Energizer. Modern alkaline batteries, due to technological improvements, can last as much as 40 times longer than the original prototype.

In 1999 Urry gave his first prototype battery, along with the first commercially produced cylindrical battery, to the Smithsonian Institution. Both cells are now displayed in the same room as Edison’s lightbulb.


Koichi Mizushima

(January 30, 1941) is a Japanese researcher known for discovering LiCoO2 (Lithium cobalt oxide) and related materials for the Li-ion battery.

Koichi Mizushima was trained as a physicist in University of Tokyo and got a PhD in Physics from University of Tokyo. He worked for 13 years in Physics Department at University of Tokyo. In 1977, he was invited by Professor John Goodenough in the Inorganic Chemistry Department at Oxford University for a research scientist. During his stay (1977-1979) in Oxford, Dr. Mizushima, along with John B. Goodenough, discovered LiCoO2 and related compounds now used for the cathode of Li-ion battery.


Michael Stanley Whittingham

(22 December, 1941) is a British-American chemist. He is currently a professor of chemistry and director of both the Institute for Materials Research and the Materials Science and Engineering program at Binghamton University. He also serves as director of the Northeastern Center for Chemical Energy Storage (NECCES), a U.S. Department of Energy Energy Frontier Research (EFRC) Center at Binghamton. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2019 alongside Akira Yoshino and John B. Goodenough.

Whittingham is a key figure in the history of the development of lithium-ion batteries. He discovered the intercalation electrodes in 1970s for the first time and thoroughly described the concept of intercalation reaction for rechargeable batteries in the late of 1970s. He holds the original patents on the concept of the use of intercalation chemistry in high-power density, highly reversible lithium batteries. And he invented the first rechargeable lithium ion battery, patented in 1977 and assigned to Exxon

Exxon manufactured Whittingham’s lithium-ion battery in 1970s, the first functional rechargeable battery in the world, which was based on a titanium disulfide cathode and a lithium-aluminum anode. The battery had high energy density and the diffusion of lithium ions into the titanium disulphide cathode was reversible, making the battery rechargeable. In addition, titanium disulphide has a particularly fast rate of lithium ion diffusion into the crystal lattice. Exxon threw its resources behind the commercialization of a Li/LiClO4/ TiS2 battery. Safety concerns left Exxon to end the project. Whittingham and his team continued to publish their work in academic journals of electrochemistry and solid-state physics. He eventually left Exxon in 1984 and spent four years at Schlumberger as a Manager. In 1988, he accepted the position of Professor at the Chemistry Department, Binghamton University, U.S. to pursue his academic interests.

“All these batteries are called intercalation batteries. It’s like putting jam in a sandwich. In the chemical terms, it means you have a crystal structure, and we can put lithium ions in, take them out, and the structure’s exactly the same afterwards,” Whittingham said “We retain the crystal structure. That’s what makes these lithium batteries so good, allows them to cycle for so long.”

Today’s lithium batteries are limited in capacity, because less than one lithium ion/electron is reversibly intercalated per transition metal redox center. To achieve higher energy densities, one approach is go beyond the one electron redox intercalation reactions of the above systems. Currently, Whittingham’s research has advanced to multi-electron intercalation reactions, which can increase the storage capacity by intercalating multiple lithium ions. A few multi-electron intercalation materials have been successfully developed by Whittingham, like LiVOPO4/VOPO4 etc. The multivalent vanadium cation (V3+<->V5+) plays an important role to accomplish the multi-electron reactions. These promising materials shine lights on battery industry to increase energy density rapidly.

His work on lithium battery laid the foundations for other followers’ later developments. Therefore, he is the called Founding Father of rechargeable lithium batteries.


Akira Yoshino

(30 January, 1948) is a Japanese chemist. He is a fellow of Asahi Kasei Corporation and a professor at Meijo University in Nagoya. He created the first safe, production-viable lithium-ion battery which became used widely in cellular phones and notebook computers. Yoshino was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2019 alongside M. Stanley Whittingham and John B. Goodenough.

Yoshino spent his entire non-academic career at Asahi Kasei Corporation. Immediately after graduating with his master’s degree in 1972, Yoshino began working at Asahi Kasei. He began work in the Kawasaki Laboratory in 1982 and was promoted to manager of product development for ion batteries in 1992. In 1994, he became manager of technical development for the LIB manufacturer A&T Battery Corp., a joint venture company of Asahi Kasei and Toshiba. Asahi Kasei made him a fellow in 2003 and, in 2005, general manager of his own laboratory. Since 2017, he has been a professor at Meijo University and his status at Asahi Kasei has changed to honorary fellow.

In 1981 Yoshino began research on rechargeable batteries using polyacetylene. Polyacetylene is the electroconductive polymer discovered by Hideki Shirakawa, who later (in 2000) would be awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for its discovery. In 1983 Yoshino fabricated a prototype rechargeable battery using lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) (discovered in 1979 by Godshall et al. at Stanford University, and John Goodenough and Koichi Mizushima at Oxford University) as cathode and polyacetylene as anode. This prototype, in which the anode material itself contains no lithium, and lithium ions migrate from the LiCoO2 cathode into the anode during charging, was the direct precursor to the modern lithium-ion battery (LIB).

Polyacetylene had low real density which meant high capacity required large battery volume, and also had problems with instability, so Yoshino switched to carbonaceous material as anode and in 1985 fabricated the first prototype of the LIB and received the basic patent. This was the birth of the current lithium-ion battery. The LIB in this configuration was commercialized by Sony in 1991 and by A&T Battery in 1992.

Yoshino discovered that carbonaceous material with a certain crystalline structure was suitable as anode material, and this is the anode material that was used in the first generation of commercial LIBs. Yoshino developed the aluminum foil current collector which formed a passivation layer to enable high cell voltage at low cost, and developed the functional separator membrane and the use of a positive temperature coefficient (PTC) device for additional safety.

The LIB’s coil-wound structure was conceived by Yoshino to provide large electrode surface area and enable high current discharge despite the low conductivity of the organic electrolyte.


Maria Skyllas-Kazacos

(26 October, 1951) is an Australian chemical engineer best known for her pioneering work of the vanadium redox battery, which she created at the University of New South Wales in the 1980s. 

After finishing her PhD, Skyllas joined Bell Laboratories in the US for her post-doctoral work. While completing her postdoctoral fellowship at Bell Labs, Skyllas did research on solar energy and focused on the liquid junction solar cell. She researched ways of depositing thin films. She received a patent for a new method of electrodepositing thin films of cadmium selenide. Since Bell labs had to service Bell Telephone Company, Skyllas also did work on batteries. While assisting on experiments with a problem of lead-acid batteries, she discovered soluble lead(IV) ions in the charging and discharging reactions of the lead-acid batteries. She published a paper on this discovery in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society. After giving a poster presentation in Australia on the same subject, she was awarded the Bloom-Gutmann Prize for the best young author under 30.

After leaving Bell Labs, Skyllas went back to Australia and accepted a position as a Queen Elizabeth II Fellow in the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales. In 1982, aged 31, she became a professor in chemical engineering and industrial chemistry.

At the University of New South Wales, Skyllas-Kazacos and her research team, working on vanadium compounds, discovered that highly concentrated pentavalent solutions can be prepared indirectly from tetravalent ions, which is more soluble, combined with scraping of the carbon electrode that made the vanadium oxidation-reduction reactions reversible. Skyllas with her research team then patented the vanadium redox battery in 1988.

In 1999 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia “for service to science and technology, particularly in the development of the vanadium redox battery as an alternative power source”. She is an emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales.


Rachid Yazami

(16 April, 1953) is a Moroccan scientist and engineer. He is best known for his critical role in the development of the lithium-ion battery, as the inventor of the graphite anode (negative pole) of lithium-ion batteries. He is also known for his research on fluoride ion batteries. Yazami is a 1978 graduate of the Grenoble Institute of Technology, (INPG) where he also received a Ph. D. degree in 1985.

In 1980 Yazami was the first scientist to establish the reversible intercalation of lithium into graphite in an electrochemical cell using a polymer electrolyte. Eventually, his discovery led to the lithium-graphite anode now used in commercial lithium ion batteries. Yazami also worked on other forms of graphite materials for cathode application in lithium batteries, including graphite oxide and graphite fluoride. In 2007 he founded a start-up company in California to develop and commercialize his patented discoveries particularly on fluoride ion batteries (FIBs).

While holding a Research Director position with the CNRS in France, Yazami has served as a Visiting Associate at the California Institute of Technology between 2000 and 2010 where he conducted cooperative research on electrode materials including nanostructured materials such as carbon nanotubes, nano-silicon and nano-germanium anodes. His research on cathode materials included thermodynamics studies of phase transitions in lithiated transition metal oxides and phosphates. He also developed a new electrochemical technique based on thermodynamics measurements (ETM), which applies to assess a battery state of charge, state of health and state of safety. Entropymetry applications include battery life extension owing to adaptive (smart) battery charging protocols and battery safety enhancement.

He currently serves as the Director of Battery Programs at the Energy Research Institute (ERIAN) and as a Co-Principal Investigator in TUM Create Center of Electromobility lab. in Singapore. In 2011 Yazami founded a new start-up company in Singapore, KVI,PTE LTD, which develops and commercializes novel equipment and components to investigate novel battery materials and batteries for enhanced energy, power and cycle life performances and also to increase their safety. The KVI technology is based on thermodynamics principles and methods. Recently, Prof. Yazami demonstrated a new battery cell based on three electrodes, an anode, a cathode and an auxiliary electrode used to regenerate the cell after aging.

From recent experimental work Yazami theorized that in a sealed rechargeable battery cell (closed system), such as a lithium ion battery, two different states of charge of the battery cannot have simultaneously the same entropy and the same enthalpy values, a statement referred to as the ‘Yazami’s Battery Theorem’. The theorem can be expressed as:(∆S(x1)=∆S(x2)) and (∆H(x1)=∆H(x2))⇔ x1=x2 , where x1, x2 are two states of charge, ∆S= entropy, ∆H= enthalpy In fact, Yazami established a more universal (empirical) law which applies to primary and rechargeable batteries, that is the state of charge is a linear function of entropy and enthalpy. SOC=α+β∆S+γ∆H, in which α, β and γ coefficients depend on the cell’ chemistry and state of health.


Yair‌ ‌‌‌‌‌‌‍‍‌Ein-Eli‌‌‌‌‌

(Israel, 1966) After graduating from Bar-ilan University in 1995, Dr. Ein-Eli was a post doctoral fellow at Covalent Associates Inc located at MA, U.S.A. (1995-1997), where he eventually headed the Li-ion research group until 1998. He then proceeded and joined Electric Fuel Ltd. and was appointed Director of Research and Battery Technology. In 2001 he joined the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at the Technion. He is the current President of the Israeli Corrosion Forum (NACE Israel), member of the Israel Chemical Society, and a member of the Electrochemical Society and the International Society of Electrochemistry.

Silicon–air batteries are a new battery technology invented by a team led by Prof. Ein-Eli at the Grand Technion Energy Program at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.The silicon-air battery research was financed by the Bi-National Research Foundation (BSF). Also involved in the research were Dr. David Starosvetsky and graduate student Gil Cohen from the Technion, Prof. Digby Macdonald from Penn State University, and Prof. Rika Hagiwara of Kyoto University.

Created from oxygen and silicon (the second most plentiful element in the earth’s crust), such batteries would be lightweight, have an unlimited shelf life, and have a high tolerance for both humid and extremely dry conditions. Potential uses include medical applications (for example, powering diabetic pumps or hearing aids), sensors and microelectronics structured from silicon.


The Protagonists
XVI Century
XVII Century
XVIII Century
XIX Century
XX Century

Sources : Wikipedia and others