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Nobel Prize in Chemistry: for Lithium ion battery

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lithium ion battery

Mains level : Significance of Li-ion batteries in FAME schemes


  • This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry recognizes the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power most of the portable devices that we use, such as mobile phones and more recently the e-vehicles.
  • The prize has been given jointly to Stanley Whittingham, John B Goodenough and Akira Yoshino.

Li-Ion battery

  • Whittingham developed the first functional lithium-ion battery in 1976, Goodenough brought in a major improvement in 1980, while Yoshino made the first practical-use lithium-ion battery in 1985.
  • Commercially manufactured lithium-ion batteries, based on what Yoshino had developed, made their first appearance in 1991.

Working

  • Batteries convert chemical energy into electricity.
  • A battery comprises two electrodes, a positive cathode and a negative anode, which is separated by a liquid chemical, called electrolyte, which is capable of carrying charged particles.
  • The two electrodes are connected through an electrical circuit.
  • When the circuit is on, electrons travel from the negative anode towards the positive cathode, thus generating electric current, while positively charged ions move through the electrolyte.

Why Li-Ion battery is the best?

  • Researchers have continued to look for other materials to make more efficient batteries, but so far none of these has succeeded in outperforming lithium-ion battery’s high capacity and voltage.
  • The lithium-ion battery itself has, however, gone several modifications and improvements so that it is much more environment friendly than when it was first developed.

How it is different from conventional batteries?

  • Single-use batteries stop working once a balance is established between the electrical charges.
  • In rechargeable batteries, an external power supply reverses the flow of electric charges, so that the battery can be used again.
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