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Asahi Kasei Akira Yoshino, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019, holds a lithium-ion battery and a bouquet of flowers at a press conference in Tokyo on October 9, 2019. REUTERS / Issei Kato

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry honored on Wednesday an American, a British and a Japanese, inventors of the lithium-ion battery that equips smartphones and electric cars and whose demand explodes in the face of the climate emergency.

Lithium-ion batteries, born during the oil crisis in the late 1970s, represented a revolution in the storage of energy.

It is Stanley Witthingham who first sought to free us from fossil fuels by discovering the power of lithium, a very light metal, and very reactive, able to provide a voltage of 3.5 volts, higher than that of conventional batteries .

The 2019 #NobelPrize in Chemistry has been awarded to John B. Goodenough, Mr. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino "for the development of lithium-ion batteries." Pic.twitter.com/LUKTeFhUbg

The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 9, 2019

In the 1980s, John Goodenough added cobalt oxide, which allowed small lithium ions to roam freely between the two poles of the battery, and finally, Akira Yoshino completed the device with carbon electrodes for further facilitate the process.

► See also: The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics honors three astronomy researchers

As a result, lithium ions roam freely during charge and discharge cycles of the battery, without modifying the host materials in the + and - electrodes.

Compact and enduring

Lithium-ion batteries are small, lightweight and run out very slowly. That's why this technology is now in all the portable and mobile electronics we use. " This type of lightweight, rechargeable and powerful battery is now used everywhere ," said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the prize. [...] It can store significant amounts of solar and wind energy, paving the way for a society free of fossil fuels . "

There is nevertheless a small flat: lithium is a rare material, it represents only 0.06% of the earth's crust.