9 October 2019
The Japanese chemist Akira Yoshino, winner of the European Inventor Award 2019, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year. Yoshino invented the first modern lithium-ion battery in 1983 and has continued to improve the technology throughout his extensive career.
"We would like to congratulate Dr Yoshino on this prestigious distinction," said EPO President António Campinos. "His dedication to science and research has had a remarkable effect on economies, and has been a tremendous driver of social change."
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences chose the Nobel laureates in chemistry for their contributions towards the development of the lithium-ion battery. Yoshino was honoured alongside Stanley Whittingham, who developed methods that could lead to fossil fuel-free energy technologies; and John Goodenough, whose metal oxide cathode research provided a breakthrough that would lead to vastly improved batteries.
Akira Yoshino is the fourth Award finalist to be recognised by the Nobel Academy for his outstanding contribution to science. He joins Peter Grünberg (2007 Nobel Prize in Physics,), Shuji Nakamura (2014 Nobel Prize in Physics) and Stefan Hell (2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry;) in the ranks of alumni of the Award who have gone on to become Nobel Laureates.
The European Inventor Award is an annual science prize in which the European Patent Office (EPO) honours inventors. To be considered, an invention must significantly contribute towards scientific progress, society, economic prosperity and job creation. At the 2019 edition, Akira Yoshino received the accolade in the "Non-EPO countries" category.
His development of a small, lightweight, rechargeable battery with a sufficient storage capacity helped to unlock a mass market in portable electronic devices. Today, his invention is used in nearly five billion mobile phones worldwide, and has enabled the emergence of electric vehicles. The worldwide market for lithium-ion batteries was estimated at EUR 26.5 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach over EUR 80 billion by the year 2025.