The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Wednesday awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2019 to John B Goodenough, M Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino “for the development of lithium-ion batteries”. Goodenough is the oldest Nobel laureate at 97 years old.

In the early 1970s, Whittingham used lithium’s enormous drive to release its outer electron when he developed the first functional lithium battery, said the academy. Goodenough doubled the lithium battery’s potential, creating the right conditions for a vastly more powerful and useful battery, while Yoshino succeeded in eliminating pure lithium from the battery.

Whittingham is associated with Binghamton University in New York, Goodenough with the University of Texas in Austin while Yoshino is associated with the Asahi Kasei Corporation in Tokyo and Meijo University in Nagoya.

With this, the prize in chemistry has been awarded 111 times to 184 laureates since 1901. In 1911, Marie Curie became the first scientist to receive two Nobel Prizes after she won the award in chemistry. She had previously received the Physics prize for her work on radioactivity. The youngest chemistry laureate is Frederic Joliot, who was 35 when he received the prize in 1935 along with his wife Irene Joliot-Curie.

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz on Tuesday “for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos”. The day before, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to American researchers William G Kaelin Jr and Gregg L Semenza, and British scientist Sir Peter J Ratcliffe “for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability”.

The prize for literature will be announced on Thursday, peace on Friday, and economics on October 14.

Last year, the prize in Chemistry was given to Frances H Arnold, George P Smith and Sir Gregory P Winter for developing “proteins that solve humankind’s chemical problems”. Arnold received one half of the prize for the directed evolution of enzymes while Smith and Winter received the other half together “for the phage display of peptides and antibodies”.

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