Nobel Prize awarded to Honorary Fellow, Professor Goodenough

We are delighted to announce that Professor John Goodenough, Honorary Fellow of St Catherine’s, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019 for the development of the lithium-ion battery.

Lithium-ion batteries are used to power the portable electronic devices that we use daily. Such devices enable us to communicate, work, listen to music, take photos, and all manner of other activities that we can’t imagine our modern lives without. They are now being used to develop the technology of electric cars and renewable energy, such as solar and wind power.

John Goodenough researched into the use of metal oxides, rather than metal sulphides, in batteries. After a systematic search, in 1980 he demonstrated that cobalt oxide with intercalated lithium ions can produce as much as four volts, doubling the battery’s potential. This breakthrough lead to the development of the batteries we use today.

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. He became an Honorary Fellow at St Catz in 2010.

This Nobel Prize is awarded jointly to John Goodenough, M. Stanley Wittingham (alumnus of New College) and Akira Yoshino, whose scientific discoveries together led to the lithium-ion battery we know and use today, creating a ‘rechargeable world’.

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