John B. Goodenough

John Bannister Goodenough (/ˈɡʊdɪnʌf/ GUUD-in-uf;[2] born July 25, 1922[3]) is an American materials scientist, a solid-state physicist, and a Nobel laureate in chemistry. He is a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Texas at Austin. He is widely credited with the identification and development of the lithium-ion battery, for developing the Goodenough–Kanamori rules in determining the sign of the magnetic superexchange in materials, and for seminal developments in computer random access memory.

John B. Goodenough
Goodenough in 2011
John Bannister Goodenough

(1922-07-25) July 25, 1922
Jena, Germany
EducationYale University (BS)
University of Chicago (MS, PhD)
Known forLi-ion rechargeable battery
Goodenough–Kanamori rules
(RAM) random access memory
AwardsJapan Prize (2001)
Enrico Fermi Award (2009)
National Medal of Science (2011)
IEEE Medal for Environmental and Safety Technologies (2012)
Charles Stark Draper Prize (2014)
Welch Award (2017)
Copley Medal (2019)
Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2019)
Scientific career
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Oxford
University of Texas at Austin
ThesisA theory of the deviation from close packing in hexagonal metal crystals (1952)
Doctoral advisorClarence Zener
Notable studentsBill David (postdoc)[1]
InfluencesNevil Francis Mott
John C. Slater
Philip Warren Anderson
Paul Hagenmuller
InfluencedAkira Yoshino
C. N. R. Rao
Michael M. Thackeray

Goodenough was born in Jena, Germany, to American parents. During and after graduating from Yale University, Goodenough served as a U.S. military meteorologist in World War II. He went on to obtain his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Chicago, became a researcher at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and later the head of the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory at the University of Oxford. Since 1986, he has been a professor in the school of engineering at UT Austin.

He has been awarded the National Medal of Science, the Copley Medal, the Fermi Award, the Draper Prize, and the Japan Prize. The John B Goodenough Award in materials science is named for him. In 2019, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and, at 97 years old, became the oldest Nobel laureate in history.[4]

Early life and education

John Goodenough was born in Jena, Germany, to American parents, Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough (1893–1965) and Helen Miriam (Lewis) Goodenough.[5] His father was working on his Ph.D. at the Harvard Divinity School at the time of John's birth and later became a professor in the history of religion at Yale University. John's brother was the late University of Pennsylvania anthropologist Ward Goodenough. The brothers attended boarding school at Groton in Massachusetts.[6] In 1944, John Goodenough received a B.S. in Mathematics, summa cum laude, from Yale, where he was a member of Skull and Bones.[7]

After serving in the US Army as a meteorologist[8] in World War II, Goodenough went to the University of Chicago to complete a masters and was awarded a Ph.D. in physics in 1952.[9] His doctoral supervisor was electrical breakdown theorist Clarence Zener and he worked and studied with physicists, including Enrico Fermi and John A. Simpson. While at Chicago, he met and married history graduate student Irene Wiseman.[10]

MIT Lincoln Laboratory

After his studies, Goodenough was a research scientist and team leader at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory for 24 years. During this time he was part of an interdisciplinary team responsible for developing random access magnetic memory. His research efforts on RAM led him to develop the concepts of cooperative orbital ordering, also known as a cooperative Jahn–Teller distortion, in oxide materials, and subsequently led to his developing the rules for the sign of the magnetic superexchange in materials, now known as the Goodenough–Kanamori rules (with Junjiro Kanamori).[11]

Tenure at the University of Oxford

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, he continued his career as head of the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory at University of Oxford. Among his work at Oxford, Goodenough has been credited with significant research essential to the development of commercial lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.[11] Goodenough was able to expand upon previous work from M. Stanley Whittingham on battery materials, and found in 1980 that by using LixCoO2 as a lightweight, high energy density cathode material, he could double the capacity of lithium-ion batteries. Goodenough's work was commercialized through Sony by Akira Yoshino, who had contributed additional improvements to the battery construction.[12] Goodenough received the Japan Prize in 2001 for his discoveries of the materials critical to the development of lightweight high energy density rechargeable lithium batteries,[13] and he, Whittingham, and Yoshino shared the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their research in lithium-ion batteries.[12]

Professor at University of Texas

Since 1986, Goodenough has been a Professor at The University of Texas at Austin in the Cockrell School of Engineering departments of Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering.[14] During his tenure there, he has continued his research on ionic conducting solids and electrochemical devices; he stated that he continued to study improved materials for batteries to help promote the development of electric vehicles and help reduce the dependency on fossil fuels.[15] His group has identified lithium-based materials that do not rely on cobalt, such as lithium-manganese oxides that are used today for most electric vehicle batteries, and lithium-iron phosphates that are used for smaller devices like power tools.[16] His group has also identified various promising electrode and electrolyte materials for solid oxide fuel cells.[17] He currently holds the Virginia H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering.[18]

Goodenough still works at the university at age 97 as of 2019,[19] hoping to find another breakthrough in battery technology.[20][21]

On February 28, 2017 Goodenough and his team at the University of Texas published a paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science on their demonstration of a glass battery, a low-cost all-solid-state battery that is noncombustible and has a long cycle life with a high volumetric energy density, and fast rates of charge and discharge. Instead of liquid electrolytes, the battery uses glass electrolytes that enable the use of an alkali-metal anode without the formation of dendrites.[22][21][23][24] Goodenough and colleague Maria Helena Braga hold a patent via University of Texas for solid-state electrolytes and they continue to advance battery-related research, working on several more patents.[25]

Fundamental investigations

On the fundamental side, his research has focused on magnetism and on the Metal–insulator transition behavior in transition-metal oxides. Along with Junjiro Kanamori, Goodenough developed a set of semi-empirical rules to predict magnetism in these materials in the 1950s and 1960s, now called the Goodenough–Kanamori rules, forming the basis of superexchange, which is a core property for high-temperature superconductivity.[26][27][28]


Professor Goodenough is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, French Academy of Sciences, the Real Academia de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales of Spain, and the National Academy of Sciences, India.[29] He has authored more than 550 articles, 85 book chapters and reviews, and five books, including two seminal works, Magnetism and the Chemical Bond (1963)[30] and Les oxydes des metaux de transition (1973).[17] Goodenough was a co-recipient of the 2009 Enrico Fermi Award for his work in lithium-ion batteries, alongside Siegfried S. Hecker of Stanford University who had received the award for his work in plutonium metallurgy.[31]

In 2010 he was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society.[32] On February 1, 2013, Goodenough was presented with the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama of the United States.[33] He was awarded the Draper Prize in engineering.[34] In 2015 he was listed along with M Stanley Whittingham, for pioneering research leading to the development of the lithium-ion battery on a list of Clarivate Citation Laureates for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry by Thomson Reuters. In 2017 he received the Welch Award in Chemistry[35] and in 2019 he was awarded the Copley Medal of the Royal Society.[36]

The Royal Society of Chemistry grants a John B Goodenough Award in his honor.[11]

Goodenough received an honorary C.K. Prahalad award from Corporate EcoForum (CEF) in 2017. CEF's founder Rangaswami commented, “John Goodenough is evidence of imagination being put to work for the greater good. We're thrilled to recognize his lifetime of achievements and are hopeful that his latest discovery will have major implications for the future of sustainable battery storage.”[37]

Goodenough was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on October 9, 2019, for his work on lithium-ion batteries, along with M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino. He is the oldest person to be awarded the Nobel Prize.[4]




  • John B. Goodenough (1973). Les oxydes des métaux de transition. Paris: Gauthier-Villars.
  • John B. Goodenough, ed. (2001). Structure & Bonding, V. 98 (PDF).CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

See also


  1. Thackeray, M. M.; David, W. I. F.; Bruce, P. G.; Goodenough, J. B. (1983). "Lithium insertion into manganese spinels". Materials Research Bulletin. 18 (4): 461–472. doi:10.1016/0025-5408(83)90138-1.
  2. Expert Opinion with Dr. Goodenough - The Future of Battery Storage (Expert Audience) on YouTube
  3. "John B. Goodenough". American Institute of Physics.
  4. Specia, Megan (October 9, 2019). "Nobel Prize in Chemistry Honors Work on Lithium-Ion Batteries - John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham, and Akira Yoshino were recognized for research that has "laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil-fuel-free society."". The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  5. Mattes, Eleanor Bustin (1997). Myth for Moderns: Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough and Religious Studies in America, 1938-1955. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810833395 via Google Books.
  6. LeVine, Steve (February 5, 2015). "The man who brought us the lithium-ion battery at the age of 57 has an idea for a new one at 92". Quartz (publication). Atlantic Media Company. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
  7. Goodenough, John B. (2008). Witness to Grace. PublishAmerica. ISBN 9781462607570 via Google Books.
  8. Gregg, Helen (Summer 2016). "His current quest". The University of Chicago Magazine. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  9. Goodenough, John B. (1952). A theory of the deviation from close packing in hexagonal metal crystals (Ph.D. thesis). The University of Chicago. OCLC 44609164 via ProQuest.
  10. Olinto, Angela (September 9, 2019). "University of Chicago alum John B. Goodenough shares Nobel Prize for invention of lithium-ion battery". UChicago News. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  11. "Royal Society of Chemistry - John B Goodenough Award". Royal Society of Chemistry. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  12. Kim, Allen (October 9, 2019). "John B. Goodenough just became the oldest person, at 97, to win a Nobel Prize". CNN. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  13. "The 2001 (17th) Japan Prize". Japan Prize Foundation. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  14. Henderson, Jim (June 5, 2004). "UT professor, 81, is mired in patent lawsuit". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  15. MacFarlene, Sarah (August 9, 2018). "The Battery Pioneer Who, at Age 96, Keeps Going and Going". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  16. Lerner, Louise (October 9, 2019). "University of Chicago alum John B. Goodenough shares Nobel Prize for invention of lithium-ion battery". The University of Chicago. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  17. Perks, Bea (December 22, 2014). "Goodenough rules". Chemistry World. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  18. "John Goodenough - Department of Mechanical Engineering". University of Texas. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  19. Nobel Prize in Chemistry Goes to John Goodenough of The University of Texas at Austin (October 9, 2019)
  20. LeVine, Steve (February 5, 2015). "The man who brought us the lithium-ion battery at the age of 57 has an idea for a new one at 92". Quartz. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016.
  21. "Lithium-Ion Battery Inventor Introduces New Technology for Fast-Charging, Noncombustible Batteries". Cockrell School of Engineering. February 28, 2017. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  22. Braga, M.H.; Grundish, N.S.; Murchison, A.J.; Goodenough, J.B. (December 9, 2016). "Alternative strategy for a safe rechargeable battery". Energy and Environmental Science. 10: 331–336. doi:10.1039/C6EE02888H. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  23. "Lithium-ion battery inventor introduces new technology for fast-charging, noncombustible batteries". EurekAlert!. February 28, 2017.
  24. Solid State Batteries For Electric Cars: A New Breakthrough By The Father of the Lithium-Ion Battery on YouTube (March 1, 2017)
  25. "Lithium-Ion Battery Inventor Introduces New Technology for Fast-Charging, Noncombustible Batteries". UT News | The University of Texas at Austin. February 28, 2017. Retrieved April 8, 2017.
  26. J. B. Goodenough (1955). "Theory of the Role of Covalence in the Perovskite-Type Manganites [La, M(II)]MnO3". Physical Review. 100 (2): 564. Bibcode:1955PhRv..100..564G. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.100.564.
  27. John B. Goodenough (1958). "An interpretation of the magnetic properties of the perovskite-type mixed crystals La1−xSrxCoO3−λ". Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids. 6 (2–3): 287. doi:10.1016/0022-3697(58)90107-0.
  28. J. Kanamori (1959). "Superexchange interaction and symmetry properties of electron orbitals". Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids. 10 (2–3): 87. Bibcode:1959JPCS...10...87K. doi:10.1016/0022-3697(59)90061-7.
  29. "John B. Goodenough". National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  30. Jacoby, Mitch (September 13, 2017). "Goodenough wins 2017 Welch Award". Chemical and Engineering News. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  31. "Secretary Chu Names 2009 Enrico Fermi Award Winners" (Press release). APS Physics. April 2010. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  32. "John Goodenough". Royal Society. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  33. "Obama honors recipients of science, innovation and technology medals". CBS. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  34. "2014 Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering Recipients". National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  35. Welch Award 2017 Video (10 mins)
  36. Copley Medal 2019
  37. Prahalad Award 2017 Video (4 mins)

Further reading

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