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John B. Goodenough, 100, passes away; Nobel-winning creator of lithium-ion batteries

He said in a memoir, “Witness to Grace” (2008), that he was the unwanted child of an agnostic professor of religion at Yale University and a mother with whom he never had a relationship. Leaving three siblings, a family dog, and a maid, he grew up lonely and dyslexic in an emotionally distant home. He was sent to a private boarding school at the age of 12 and rarely heard from his parents.

With patience, counseling, and an intense struggle for self-improvement, he overcame his reading disabilities. He studied Latin and Greek at Groton and majored in mathematics at Yale, meteorology in the Army Air Force during World War II, and physics at the University of Chicago under Clarence Jenner, Edward Teller, and Enrico Fermi. Where he received his doctorate in 1952.

At MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in the 1950s and ’60s, he was a member of teams that helped lay the groundwork for random access memory (RAM) in computers and developed plans for the nation’s first air defense system. In 1976, when federal funding for his MIT work ended, he moved to Oxford to teach and manage a chemistry laboratory, where he began his research on batteries.

Essentially, a battery is a device that moves electrically charged atoms, known as ions, from one side to the other, generating an electric current that powers whatever is connected to the battery. does. The two sides, called the electrodes, hold the charge—a negative side called the anode, and a positive side called the cathode. The medium between them, through which the ions travel, is an electrolyte.

When the battery releases energy, positively charged ions flow from the anode to the cathode, generating a current. A rechargeable battery plugged into a socket draws power, forcing the ions back to the anode, where they are stored until needed again. The materials used for the anode, cathode and electrolyte determine the amount and speed of the ions and thus the power of the battery.

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