Where was the lithium-ion battery invented?

In 1985, a Japanese team led by Akira Yoshino (Asahi Kasei Corporation) made a breakthrough with the discovery of gas-phase grown carbon fiber (VGCF) and later heat-treated petroleum coke. The latter material is known to contain a mixture of crystalline (graphite) and non-crystalline domains, allowing researchers to identify particularly stable but high-performance qualities with specific crystallinity. [Akira Yoshino, The Birth of lithium-ion batteries, Angewandte Essays, Angew., Chem. International. Ed., 2012, 51, 5798-5800]


With these effective negative electrode materials, Yoshino has developed an efficient, working 100 amp lithium battery based on an ion transfer battery configuration. Thus, the identified carbon-containing material is used as the anode, and Goodenough’s LixCoO2 material (which usually contains a small amount of tin) is used as the cathode. Using an isolation layer composed of polyethylene or polypropylene, the electrolyte consists of lithium perchlorate (LiClO4) in propylidene carbonate (PC).


In 1986, Yoshino also demonstrated the safety of such batteries by placing heavy objects on them. There were no fires or explosions, and batteries with lithium metal anodes reacted violently.


These discoveries and developments eventually led to the release of commercial lithium batteries

In 1991. With further development, lithium-ion batteries were commercialized by SONY in 1991 and by a joint venture between Asahi Kasei and Toshiba in 1992. [Nishi, Y., Development of lithium-ion secondary batteries. Chemical Recommendations 2001, 1, 406-413]


The battery is based on a petroleum coke based negative electrode material, LixCoO2 as a positive electrode, and an anhydrous electrolyte composed of lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6) in propylidene carbonate (PC). The charging voltage is high (up to 4.1V), the specific energy recorded is ~80 Wh/kg, and the energy density is ~200 Wh/ L.


Lithium batteries quickly became very competitive compared to other batteries on the market at the time and paved the way for the coming mobile revolution.


Around the same time, it was discovered that graphite could actually be used in combination with a suitable electrolyte composition. [Fong R, Sacken U von, Dahn JR., Lithium embedding in carbon using non-hydroelectric chemical batteries. J. Electrochemistry. Society. 1990, 137 (7), 2009-2013]


By using a solvent containing ethyl carbonate, hitherto often overlooked due to its higher melting point, a solid electrolyte intermediate phase (SEI) is formed on the surface of the graphite electrode during the charge/discharge cycle, thereby protecting the carbon material from peeling and further decomposition. [Peled, E. Electrochemical behavior of alkali and alkaline earth metals in non-aqueous battery systems, J. Electrochemistry. Society. 1979, 126 (12), 2047-2051.


This discovery was quickly adopted by the battery community, and the next generation of lithium-ion batteries with graphite as the negative electrode material was developed. Using this negative material, a battery with a charging voltage of 4.2V and an energy density of about 400 Wh/L was soon produced.

The development of lithium-ion batteries did not stop with these important discoveries, but many improvements and alternatives have since been reported. For example, new cathode materials for specific battery applications are constantly being discovered, two of which are derived from the Goodenough group: the spinel material Li1-xMn2O4 and the olivine material LixFePO4 (LFP). [Pardee, AK; South Jundas Wamy, Kansas; Goodenough, JB Phospho-Olivines as a positive electrode material for rechargeable lithium batteries. J. Electrochemistry. Society. 1997, 144, 1188-1194.

Thackeray, MM; David, wife; Bruce, PG; Goodenough, JB Insert the lithium into the manganese spinel. His Alma mater. Reservoir bull. 1983, 18, 461-472].


The latter material has a slightly lower potential than LixCoO2, but is highly stable and can be used at high charging rates. Several other electrode materials and electrolyte systems have also been discovered, leading to ever-improving energy storage materials for the benefit of society.

Comments are closed