When was lithium first used in batteries?
Lithium’s potential as a battery material was recognized as early as the 1970s. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the first commercial lithium-based batteries were developed. A key figure in this development was John B. Goodenough, an American physicist and materials scientist. Goodenough and his colleagues demonstrated that lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) could serve as a stable, high-energy-density cathode material for rechargeable batteries.
In 1991, the Japanese electronics company Sony commercialized the first lithium-ion battery, based on the lithium cobalt oxide cathode and a graphite anode. This new type of battery offered several advantages over previous battery technologies, such as nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride, including a higher energy density, slower self-discharge rate, and a lack of the “memory effect” that plagued other rechargeable batteries. Since then, lithium-ion batteries have become the dominant rechargeable battery technology, powering a wide range of electronic devices, from smartphones and laptops to electric vehicles and renewable energy systems.