Lithium Ion batteries and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry – 2019

    25-Oct-2019
Dr Goutam Singh Ningombam
2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was jointly awarded to John BannisterGoodenough, Michael Stanley Whittinghamand Akira Yoshino “for the development of lithium-ion batteries”.
It was announced on the 9th October 2019.
In a press release by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, a line read as “They created a rechargeable world”.
Many of us must have heard and experience about the lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries. This type of battery has now become an indispensable component in the present era of technological advancements. They are rechargeable; possess lightweight and high energy density power sourceswhich make them highly beneficial for use in many useful devices as compared to other batteries like dry cell, lead storage batteries. They are used in almost all of the handheld smart electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets,smart watches, digital cameras etc. Such as in electric cars, many small lithium ion batteries are connected in parallel to provide efficient power supply. In the context of environmental issues also, the Li-ion batteries are categorized as non-hazardous class of batteries. The components of this battery do not contain any metal of high toxicity concern. The metals like iron, copper, nickel and cobalt present in the battery constitution also do not pose any unsafe consequences for incinerators and landfills and can be recycled as well.
The first commercialized Li-ion battery was brought to the market by Sony in 1991. And in 1992, the A&T Battery (joint venture Company of Asahi Kasei and Toshiba) stared commercialization of the Li-ion Battery. It has now become one of the demanding and promising materials in the market sector of portable electronic devices. However, the actual chemistry of the development of Li-ion battery was started during the oil crisis in 1970s. It was the sincere relentless efforts of this year’s three Nobel laureates that the Li-ion battery has been gifted for the benefits and comfortable lifestyles of the mankind. The fruit of their inquisitiveness and enthusiasms have made us enjoy the revolution of smart electronic devices; and made our environment safer by the reduction of the use of fossil fuels as well as from the hazardous trash of other form of batteries.
Their scientific efforts in the development of Li-ion batteries have been presented here for information to the readers. The information can also be obtained from the also website - www.nobelprize.org for the press release and scientific backgrounds.
Michael Stanley Whittingham
Professor M. Stanley Whittingham is a British-American Chemist born in 1941 in the United Kingdom. He did his Ph.D. in 1968 from Oxford University, United Kingdom. His current affiliation isBinghamton University, State University of New York, New York, USA. He holds the position of director of both the Institute for Materials Research and The Materials Science and Engineering program at the university.
He was recognized as the Founding Father of the rechargeable lithium batteries. He developed the concept of intercalation electrodes for the so called Li-ion batteries in the 1970s.Actually, Whittingham proposed the concept of intercalation electrodes as early as 1973 with the Exxon (Exxon Research and Engineering Company) and the demonstrated in 1976 in the form of a rechargeable battery. By then, the Whittingham’s rechargeable Li-ion battery was composed of titanium disulphide (TiS2) as the cathode and lithium metal as the anode. They are also called intercalation batteries.At the molecular level, the cathode has spaces that can house lithium ions. In a simpler term, it behaves like putting jam in a sandwich.And the metallic lithium of the anode has a strong drive to release electrons. He used LiPF6 as the electrolyte in propylene carbonate as the solvent.
The rechargeable battery developed had the capacity to produce just over two volts, about 2.5 volts and an initial current density of 10 milliampere per square centimeter (mA/cm2).During the discharging process, the intercalation of lithium metal into the titanium disulfide lattice and form the lithiated cathode – LiTiS2. Again during the reverse charging process, it starts with the lithiated titanium disulfide.
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