Honorary Fellow, Professor Goodenough, Awarded Royal Society’s Copley Medal

We are delighted to announce that Professor John Goodenough, Honorary Fellow of St Catherine’s, has been awarded the Royal Society’s Copley Medal in recognition of his outstanding contributions to materials science, including the research he conducted which led to the invention of the rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

The Copley Medal is The Royal Society’s oldest and most prestigious award, and is thought to be the world’s oldest scientific prize, awarded 170 years before the first Nobel Prize. It is awarded in recognition of outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science. Professor Goodenough joins a list of notable award winners, including Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin and Benjamin Franklin.

With an undergraduate degree in Mathematics, and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Physics, Goodenough joined the University of Oxford as Head of the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory in 1976 and was a Professorial Fellow at St Catz between 1976 and 1988. It was during this time that he made the lithium-ion battery discovery.

On receiving the Copley Medal, Professor Goodenough said, “Words are not sufficient to express my appreciation for this award. My ten years at Oxford were transformative for me, and I thank especially those who had the imagination to invite a U.S. non-academic physicist to come to England to be a Professor and Head of the Oxford Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory. I regret that age and a bad leg prevent my travel back to England to celebrate such a wonderful surprise.”

Lithium-ion batteries are now the choice, worldwide, for the powering of portable electronic devices like laptops and smartphones. Not only this, they can also be used to power electric and hybrid cars, meaning that they contribute greatly to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

The Professor, who became an Honorary Fellow at St Catz in 2010, continues to work on new battery technology. He hopes to overcome issues with lithium-ion batteries and develop technology which will free society from its dependence on fossil fuels.

Photo credit: Cockrell School of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

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