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Nobel oddsmakers think it’s time to honor the 93-year-old father of the lithium-ion battery

President Barack Obama awards the National Medal of Science to Dr. John Goodenough of the University of Texas, Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
AP/Charles Dharapak
In 2013, the National Medal of Science.
This article is more than 2 years old.

The world chemistry community is abuzz with what’s become a perennial exercise in oddsmaking: When will it be John Goodenough’s year to win the Nobel Prize? The feeling is that this year is his likeliest yet.

Goodenough, 93, is the inventor of the cathode sitting in almost every lithium-ion battery on the planet—including, most likely, the one in the electronic device you’re using now. (He was 57 when he invented it.) His innovation enabled the entire age of portable electronic devices.

Goodenough, a beloved figure in the battery community, has been shortlisted this year in informal polls by Reuters and the American Chemical Society. Then again, chemistry oddsmakers have been putting him on their short lists for years.

For his part, Goodenough has said that he doesn’t spend time thinking about the prize, but that others seem to be campaigning for him along with one or two additional battery inventors who may be credited as well. (A likely one: Akira Yoshino, who used Goodenough’s breakthrough in what became the world’s first lithium-ion battery, released by Sony in 1991.)

The Nobel prize for chemistry will be announced on Oct. 8.

(Facebook photo credit: Darren Carroll)

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