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Happy in His Work: Joy Keeps Nobel Winner Forging Ahead

In this series of videos, John Goodenough says his quest for better batteries will continue.

Charles Murray

October 17, 2019

2 Min Read
Happy in His Work: Joy Keeps Nobel Winner Forging Ahead

John Goodenough (center) received the Design News Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018. Here he is seen with the magazine’s staff and with winners of the Golden Mousetrap Awards. 

At a press conference at the president’s office at the University of Texas on Monday, Nobel winner John Goodenough flashed the humor and joy that have kept the material scientist working on new battery innovations at age 97.

Asked what it’s like to win a Nobel at 97, Goodenough quipped, “What’s it like for me? Well, I’m very happy when I’m able to get out of bed in the morning.” He followed his comment with the high-pitched laughter that’s familiar to so many around the halls of the university’s Cockrell School of Engineering.  

During the press conference, Goodenough also alluded to the need for more innovation in the battery space. In the past, he has been outspoken about enabling electric car batteries to charge faster. “We need better batteries, that’s for sure,” he said on Monday. He later added that safety is also key. “You want to avoid using any liquid electrolytes that are flammable,” he said. “And you want to keep dendrite-free anodes.”

Goodenough is familiar to readers of Design News, having attended the magazine’s Golden Mousetrap Awards in 2018, at which he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work on lithium-ion. He told Design News editors at the time that he attended because he liked the idea of honoring engineers. “And I like the name Golden Mousetrap,” he added, laughing.

Nobel-winner John Goodenough talks about winning the award at 97, and being forced to retire at 65.

Goodenough cited a need for better batteries. He is working on a solid-state lithium battery that could charge up in minutes, rather than hours.

For the sake of safety, Goodenough said, battery makers should avoid using flammable liquid electrolytes.

About the Author(s)

Charles Murray

Charles Murray is a former Design News editor and author of the book, Long Hard Road: The Lithium-Ion Battery and the Electric Car, published by Purdue University Press. He previously served as a DN editor from 1987 to 2000, then returned to the magazine as a senior editor in 2005. A former editor with Semiconductor International and later with EE Times, he has followed the auto industry’s adoption of electric vehicle technology since 1988 and has written extensively about embedded processing and medical electronics. He was a winner of the Jesse H. Neal Award for his story, “The Making of a Medical Miracle,” about implantable defibrillators. He is also the author of the book, The Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards Behind the Supercomputer, published by John Wiley & Sons in 1997. Murray’s electronics coverage has frequently appeared in the Chicago Tribune and in Popular Science. He holds a BS in engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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