One of the great minds who left an indelible mark on today’s technology landscape has passed away.
If civilization exists today as we know it, it is partly thanks to the contributions of a small number of very talented visionaries – and one of them has just passed away. John B. Goodenough, the inventor of the essential lithium-ion battery, died at the age of 100.
At the start of his illustrious career, Goodenough was not interested in drums at all. After graduating from the University of Chicago, Goodenough was a student of another titan of modern science, physicist Enrico Fermi. This collaboration opened the doors of the famous MIT to him, where he carried out his first important work; he helped lay the foundations for the development of random access memory (RAM) which is essential to millions of devices today.
Subsequently, he also established himself as a pioneer of the modern theory of magnetism. This research led to the establishment of the Goodenough-Kanamori Rules. They have greatly advanced materials science and paved the way for many modern communication systems.
One of the fathers of the modern Li-ion battery
An already well-stocked CV – but Goodenough did not intend to stop there. After his time at MIT, he joined the ranks of the prestigious University of Oxford — and the rest is history. It was there in 1979 that he identified and developed the materials upon which much of the world’s energy storage relies. With his team, he discovered that it was possible to enormously increase the energy density of a battery thanks to a lithium cobalt dioxide anode.
This discovery directly led to the development of a new family of carbon-based materials that paved the way for consumer Li-ion batteries. In other words, it is thanks to it that today we have batteries that are small and powerful enough to power a whole host of objects, like the smartphone on which you may be reading this text.
Its discovery directly led to a veritable revolution in electronics that transformed the face of humanity itself. From smartphones to laptops to electric cars, there are dozens of major technological advances that have changed the trajectory of civilization, and which simply could not have existed without this work.
This contribution has been rewarded with the highest academic distinction of its discipline. In 2019, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino, who also played a major role in the development of these rechargeable batteries. A consecration which, according to many observers, was only a matter of time, knowing the immense impact of his work. For the anecdote, at 97, he also became the oldest person to receive a Nobel during his lifetime.
A genius researcher and beloved mentor
In a beautiful obituary published on the University of Texas (UT) website, the institution paid tribute to this absolutely colossal career. “John’s legacy as a scientist is immeasurable — his discoveries have improved the lives of billions of people around the world,” said Jay Hartzell, President of the University of Texas at Austin.
” He has been a leader in the forefront of scientific research for several decades, and has never stopped looking for new and innovative ways to store energy. His work, his investment in our mission is the ultimate reflection of our aspirations, and he will be greatly missed by the university community. “, he adds.
But the person concerned was not only known for his academic feats of arms. He was also a very appreciated and respected mentor for his human qualities. His former colleagues cite in particular his communicative laughter, his humility, his qualities as a teacher, and his total investment in the projects he supported.
For example, the UT obituary explains that he often gave away all of the monetary awards that came with his numerous awards at the university in order to financially support his students and colleagues like Sharon L. Wood, another head of the university.
” He was not only a wonderful researcher, he was also a highly esteemed teacher. He took great pride in his role as a mentor, and many prominent members of the university benefited from his wisdom and encouragement. The world has lost an incredible spirit and a very generous soul “.