The Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday rewarded a trio - the American John Goodenough, the British Stanley Whittingham and the Japanese Akira Yoshino - for the invention of lithium-ion batteries, now present in many everyday technologies.
"This type of lightweight, rechargeable and powerful battery is now used everywhere, in phones and laptops, and electric vehicles," said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the prize.
"It can also store significant amounts of solar and wind energy, paving the way for a society free of fossil fuels," she added.
In the wake of the 1970s oil crises, Stanley Whittingham set out to search for non-fossil energy sources. This is how he creates an innovative cathode in a lithium battery from titanium disulfide (TiS2).
John Goodenough, who at age 97 became the oldest Nobel laureate in history, then predicted that the properties of this cathode could be increased if it was produced from metal oxide instead of disulfide. In 1980, he demonstrated that the combination of cobalt oxide and lithium ions could produce up to 4 volts. Akira Yoshino then created the first commercial battery, in 1985.
Mendeleev's first periodic table metal, lithium is also the lightest, a popular feature for electronic devices.
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The 2018 chemistry prize went to American Frances Arnold and her compatriot George Smith and British Gregory Winter for their work exploiting the mechanisms of evolution to create new and better proteins in the laboratory.
Before Frances Arnold, Marie Curie (1911), her daughter Irene Joliot-Curie (1935), Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1964) and Ada Yonath (2009) were distinguished in chemistry.
When she received her award, Marie Curie became the first laureate, of all sexes and disciplines, to win two Nobel prizes, having already been awarded the Physics Prize in 1903.
Medicine opened the 2019 Nobel Prize on Monday with the coronation of two Americians William Kaelin and Gregg Semenza, as well as Briton Peter Ratcliffe, authors of discoveries on the adaptation of cells to lack of oxygen that open up promising prospects in the world. treatment of cancer and anemia.
The physics prize went on Tuesday to the Canadian-American James Peebles, who took his steps in those of Einstein to illuminate the origins of the universe, and the Swiss Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz who, first, revealed the existence of a planet outside the solar system.
Will follow the literature on Thursday that must see two winners, one for 2018, the other for 2019, after the Swedish Academy that awards it has postponed the award last year because of a scandal of sexual assault.
The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be unveiled Friday in Oslo before the economics prize that will conclude this season Monday.
The laureates receive a check of 9 million crowns (830,000 euros), to be shared if necessary between recipients of the same prize, as well as a medal and a diploma.
© 2019 AFP