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Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for the development of lithium-ion batteries. To celebrate the award, Nature Research presents this Collection including publications from the prize winners, and further research and review content focused on Li-ion batteries, and beyond — work that is laying the foundations of a wireless and fossil-fuel-free future.

Content ‘from the winners’ and recent review articles (published from 2014 onwards) are free to access until April 2020.

This Collection is editorially independent, produced with financial support from a third party. About this content.

Featured content

Professor M Stanley Whittingham is a pioneering researcher in the development of lithium-ion batteries at Binghamton University and Kent Snyder leads battery research and development at Ford Motor Company. Nature Energy caught up with both during the Nature Conference on Materials Electrochemistry: Fundamentals and Applications held in China in January 2018.

Q&A | | Nature Energy

Jean-Marie Tarascon ponders on the value of lithium, an element known for about 200 years, whose importance is now fast increasing in view of the promises it holds for energy storage and electric cars.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

From the winners

With the cost of noble metal oxygen-reduction catalysts rendering some fuel cells and batteries prohibitively expensive, the search for effective and cheaper catalysts is underway and would be speeded up by ‘design principles’. Now, the catalytic activity of oxide materials has been correlated to σ*-orbital occupation and the extent of metal–oxygen covalency.

Article | | Nature Chemistry

Reviews

Polymers are ubiquitous in batteries as binders, separators, electrolytes and electrode coatings. In this Review, we discuss the principles underlying the design of polymers with advanced functionalities to enable progress in battery engineering, with a specific focus on silicon, lithium-metal and sulfur battery chemistries.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Materials

The high lithium-ion conductivity and deformability of solid sulfide electrolytes make them key materials in all-solid-state lithium batteries. Liquid-phase reactions are valid and scalable approaches for the preparation of sulfide-based solid electrolytes that overcome the issues of moisture sensitivity and high vapour pressures of sulfur species.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Chemistry

Energy storage using batteries offers a solution to the intermittent nature of energy production from renewable sources; however, such technology must be sustainable. This Review discusses battery development from a sustainability perspective, considering the energy and environmental costs of state-of-the-art Li-ion batteries and the design of new systems beyond Li-ion. Images: batteries, car, globe: © iStock/Thinkstock.

Review Article | | Nature Chemistry

The amount of energy that can be stored in Li-ion batteries is insufficient for the long-term needs of society, for example, for use in extended-range electric vehicles. Here, the energy-storage capabilities of Li–O2 and Li–S batteries are compared with that of Li-ion, their performances are reviewed, and the challenges that need to be overcome if such batteries are to succeed are highlighted.

Review Article | | Nature Materials

A new series begins this week. 'Horizons' are commissioned articles in which experts speculate on what will happen over the next few years in their fields. On the cover, one of Antony Gormley's figures in his Another Place installation sets the tone. In the first piece, Thomas Kirkwood considers the potential of systems biology to de-link disease and old age. Peter Murray-Rust writes on a new 'open' approach to chemistry. But his subtext is broader: the future of the 'semantic web', where computers can make as much use of information as humans can. M. Armand and J.-M. Tarascon show how advances in materials science can provide the batteries of the future. George Koentges tackles 'evo-devo', the marriage of fossil evidence, genomic sequencing and molecular developmental biology. And R. J. Schoelkopf and S. M. Girvin raise the prospect that circuit quantum electrodynamics could pave the way for practical quantum computing and communication. On page 643, Nature editor Philip Campbell sets out the brief for these and future Horizons.

Horizons | | Nature

Research articles

Extensive efforts have recently been geared towards developing all-solid-state batteries largely because of their potential to enable high-energy-density Li anodes. Here, the authors report a high-performance lithium pouch cell with no excess lithium, enabled by just a dual-salt liquid electrolyte.

Article | | Nature Energy

The ever-increasing applications for Li-ion batteries in markets call for environmentally friendly and energy-efficient recycling technologies. Here the authors report using a deep eutectic solvent to extract valuable components of Li-ion batteries.

Article | | Nature Energy

Silicon is a promising anode material for lithium-ion batteries but experiences large volume changes during cycling. Here the authors report a scalable method to synthesize porous ant-nest-like silicons. The unique structure of this anode solves the swelling problem and enables impressive performance.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Rhenium disulfide is a promising lithium ion battery material but its distorted structure makes computational modelling challenging. Here hardware-accelerator-assisted high-throughput DFT based structure searching is used to model the reversible lithiation of ReS2 including metal–sulphur bond cleavage.

Article | Open Access | | Communications Chemistry

Oxygen activity can play a vital role in determining charge transport properties of materials. Here, the authors demonstrate a method to create oxygen vacancies on layered oxides via a gas-solid interface reaction, leading to materials with enhanced energy and power densities for Li-ion batteries.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Understanding phase transitions in electrodes under realistic conditions is important for future battery design. Here, the authors use synchrotron micro-beam diffraction to reveal the phase transition mechanism within individual particles of LiFePO4, revealing a cycling rate transformation mechanism.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Cathodes for Li-ion batteries operate mainly via an insertion–deinsertion redox process involving cationic species but this mechanism does not account for the high capacities displayed by Li-rich layered oxides. The reactivity of high-capacity Li2Ru1−ySnyO3 materials is now shown to be associated with a reversible redox process related to a reductive coupling mechanism.

Article | | Nature Materials

Batteries are thought of as having high energy density but low power rates, while for fast-discharging supercapacitors the opposite is true. Byoungwoo Kang and Gerbrand Ceder have now developed a lithium-ion battery that challenges that assumption, discharging extremely rapidly and maintaining a power density similar to a supercapacitor, two orders of magnitude higher than a normal lithium-ion battery. This is achieved by modifying LiFePO4, a material widely used in batteries. The starting point is nanosized LiFePO4, which already gives relatively fast discharge rates, which is then coated with a similar compound that is slightly Fe,P,O-deficient. On heating, the coating forms a glassy top layer that enhances lithium-ion mobility. The performance of batteries based on this technology could lead to new applications for electrochemical energy storage.

Letter | | Nature