This New York professor helped develop a rechargeable battery that transformed mobile phones, laptops and many other devices — and now he’s getting one of the world’s most prestigious awards for his work.
M. Stanley Whittingham, who teaches at State University of New York at Binghamton, was jointly awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday with two other scientists who developed lithium-ion batteries, which are now used globally to power portable devices and even electric cars.
The Nobel committee described their “lightweight, rechargeable” creation as “the world’s most powerful battery,” as it can store “significant amounts of energy” from wind and solar power, “making possible a fossil fuel-free society.”
Whittingham, 77, is a British-American distinguished professor of chemistry and materials science at Binghamton, where he has taught for more than 30 years.
“Professor Whittingham’s work has fundamentally changed the way the world stores and utilizes energy, making possible a revolution in consumer and industrial technologies,” Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger said in a statement.
The two other laureates are John Goodenough, a 97-year-old German-born engineering professor at the University of Texas, and Japanese scientist Akira Yoshino, 71, of Meijo University and Asahi Kasei Corporation.
Whittingham’s contribution began during the oil crisis in the 1970s, when he developed methods that could lead to fossil fuel-free energy technologies, the Nobel committee said in a news release. He eventually discovered “an extremely energy-rich material,” which he used to develop “the first functional lithium battery,” according to the committee.
“I am overcome with gratitude at receiving this award, and I honestly have so many people to thank I don’t know where to begin,” Whittingham said in a statement to SUNY. “The research I have been involved with for over 30 years has helped advance how we store and use energy at a foundational level, and it is my hope that this recognition will help to shine a much-needed light on the nation’s energy future.”