Over the next six weeks, we will be counting down to the Nobel Prize Ceremony on the 10th of December with the most interesting terms of the laureates’ scientific field. Last week, we learned about Exoplanets. In this week of the countdown, we will look at modern-day electronics and more specifically the term Lithium-ion Battery as the laureates John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019.
The lithium-ion battery, or li-ion battery, is one of the most used batteries in the world. In almost every portable rechargeable electronic device, you will find a lithium-ion battery. The battery is so popular these days because of its high energy density. Even small lithium-ion batteries can store loads of energy and most importantly, they can be recharged for use numerous times.
Stanley Whittingham first conceived the lithium-ion battery during the oil crisis in the 1970s. At the time he worked for Exxon and developed a battery using titanium sulphide and lithium metal. However, this first lithium-ion battery was overly expensive and unstable. Throughout the years, the lithium-ion battery was more and more fine-tuned as the development progressed. It was discovered that a combination of carbon (C) as an anode and lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) as a cathode was best as they had the greatest energy density. This combination was the first developed for commercial use and Sony was the first to sell electronic products with this technology in 1991. The combination of carbon and lithium cobalt oxide works as “the cobalt and oxygen bond together to form layers of octahedral cobalt oxide structures, separated by sheets of lithium. It’s important that this structure allows the cobalt ions to change their valence states between Co+3 and Co+4 (lose and gain a negatively-charged electron) when charging and discharging” (Australian Academy of Science).
However, this form of the lithium-ion battery also has drawbacks. As we have seen over the years, especially in the case of the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones, lithium-ion batteries have certain instability if not created correctly. At higher temperatures, for example, the anodes within the battery can overheat and the cathodes can decompose and create oxygen. Combining oxygen and heat may start a fire, as some of the chemicals used within the battery are flammable.
Next week, we will be learning about Field Experiments, how it is implemented and their use. In the meantime, you can check out the term, Lithium-ion battery, on IATE and learn more about lithium-ion batteries in our sources.
Press release: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019. The Nobel Prize. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2019/press-release/ (Accessed 14th of November)
Lithium-ion battery. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery (Accessed 14th of November)
How Lithium-ion Batteries Work. How Stuff Works. https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/everyday-tech/lithium-ion-battery.htm (Accessed 14th of November)
Photo-accelerated fast charging of lithium-ion batteries. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-12863-6 (Accessed 14th of November)
BU-204: How do Lithium Batteries Work?. Battery University. https://batteryuniversity.com/index.php/learn/article/lithium_based_batteries (Accessed 14th of November)
Lithium-ion batteries. Australian Academy of Science. https://www.science.org.au/curious/technology-future/lithium-ion-batteries (Accessed 14th of November)
Ford Mustang Lithium. Ford. https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/fna/us/en/news/2019/11/05/webasto-ford-team-up-mustang-lithium-battery-electric-mustang-car-sema.html (Accessed 14th of November)
Written by Mads Rise
Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg. Holds a BA in English and IT-based Marketing and Communication from the University of Southern Denmark. Mads finished his BA with a thesis on Search Engine Optimisation and E-commerce. He has hands-on experience in web communication, SEO, administration and logistics.