John B. Goodenough 1922-2023

UT Mourns Battery Pioneer

John Goodenough smiling while holding a lithium-ion battery

John B. Goodenough, professor at The University of Texas at Austin who is known around the world for the development of the lithium-ion battery, died Sunday, June 25 at the age of 100. Goodenough was a dedicated public servant, a sought-after mentor and a brilliant yet humble inventor.

His discovery led to the wireless revolution and put electronic devices in the hands of people worldwide. In 2019, Goodenough made national and international headlines after being awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his battery work, an award many of his fans considered a long time coming, especially as he became the oldest person to receive a Nobel Prize.

“John’s legacy as a brilliant scientist is immeasurable — his discoveries improved the lives of billions of people around the world,” said UT Austin President Jay Hartzell. “He was a leader at the cutting edge of scientific research throughout the many decades of his career, and he never ceased searching for innovative energy-storage solutions. John’s work and commitment to our mission are the ultimate reflection of our aspiration as Longhorns — that what starts here changes the world — and he will be greatly missed among our UT community.”


Winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Goodenough sitting at desk in office

John B. Goodenough, who holds the Virginia H. Cockrell Centennial Chair of Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering, has been awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry — jointly with Stanley Whittingham of the State University of New York at Binghamton and Akira Yoshino of Meijo University — “for the development of lithium-ion batteries.”

In the words of the Nobel Foundation, “Through their work, they have created the right conditions for a wireless and fossil fuel-free society, and so brought the greatest benefit to humankind.”

Goodenough, who was born in 1922, identified and developed the critical materials that provided the high-energy density needed to power portable electronics, initiating the wireless revolution. Today, batteries incorporating Goodenough’s cathode materials are used worldwide for mobile phones, power tools, laptops, tablets and other wireless devices, as well as electric and hybrid vehicles.


100th Birthday Symposium

Goodenough at 100th birthday celebration

To celebrate John Goodenough turning 100 on July 25, 2022, battery leaders from around the globe, many of whom have been influenced by Goodenough's breakthroughs, gathered virtually and in person at a symposium at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin to share stories and discuss the next generation of battery research.

"He is a symbol of ingenuity, strength and excellence in the Cockrell School," said Sharon Wood, executive vice president and provost at UT Austin and former dean of the Cockrell School, at the event. "His mere presence inspires students and encourages our faculty to succeed. He has unequivocally and quite literally changed the world with his inventions. And he has the biggest laugh on campus, so you always know when you are in John's presence."

Read the Story

Watch the Symposium Livestream Recording

John Goodenough - Changing the World

See how a visionary investment in The University of Texas at Austin brought John B. Goodenough to UT, where his work continues.

10 Fast Facts About John Goodenough

He still comes to work in his lab every day — and has a laugh that can be heard reverberating through the halls of Texas Engineering buildings. Listen

He has authored several books, including an autobiography titled “Witness to Grace.”

He served in WWII as an Army meteorologist.

Goodenough began his career at MIT, where he laid the groundwork for the development of random-access memory (RAM) for the digital computer.

Sony commercialized the battery with his materials in 1991.

He is the recipient of the Japan Prize, the Charles Stark Draper Prize, the National Medal of Science, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the Enrico Fermi Award, the Welch Award, the Copley Medal and many others.

Goodenough was born in Germany in 1922. His students wish him Happy Birthday every year with a cake and celebration. (His birthday is July 25.)

The Royal Society of Chemistry grants an award in his honor, the John B. Goodenough Award for contributions in materials chemistry.

At the University of Chicago — where he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees with C. Zener — he received education from Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi and John A. Simpson, both of whom worked on the Manhattan Project.

One of his frequent pieces of advice is to not retire too early. Listen to his conversation with the Nobel Foundation

The Inventor

UT engineer John Goodenough changed our lives with his pioneering battery research and his work will live on for generations.

Read more in UT’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde
Goodenough John