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Professor John B. Goodenough Honored by IEEE, NAS and UTME for Achievements

(l. to r.) Peter Staecker,  IEEE President-Elect; 2012 IEEE Medal for Environmental and Safety Technologies co-recipients Akira Yoshino, John Bannister Goodenough and Rachid Yazami; and Gordon Day, IEEE President.

(l. to r.) Peter Staecker, IEEE President-Elect; 2012 IEEE Medal for Environmental and Safety Technologies co-recipients Akira Yoshino, John Bannister Goodenough and Rachid Yazami; and Gordon Day, IEEE President.

AUSTIN, TEXAS—July 6, 2012

Professor John B. Goodenough, known for the invention of the lithium-ion battery, has recently received three honorary awards for his achievements. He has been named an Honorary Engineer by the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas, inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, and received the IEEE Medal for Environmental and Safety Technologies.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering wishes to congratulate and thank him for his continued leadership and contributions to the department, science and the world at large. He continues to serve as an inspiration to all who know and work with him.

Citation for the IEEE Medal for Environmental and Safety Technologies

For developing the lithium-ion battery, which enables significant fuel conservation and reduced emissions as power storage for electric vehicles and for smartgrids incorporating renewables.

Citation for Honorary Mechanical Engineer, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Nominees for this award are non-UT ME alumni who have made major contributions to the engineering profession and whose support of the UT Mechanical Engineering Department merits recognition.

The Mission of the National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the public good. An Act of Congress, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 at the height of the Civil War, calls upon the NAS to provide independent advice to the government on matters related to science and technology. Read more➢


From WWII Veteran to World-Renowned Scientist

On returning from service in World War II, John B. Goodenough was given the opportunity to study physics at the University of Chicago. The registration Professor greeted him with the statement, "I don't understand you veterans. Don't you know that anyone who ever did anything important in physics had already done it by the time he was your age, and you want to begin?"

After receiving his Ph.D. in physics in 1952, Goodenough took a position at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory where his group was charged with the challenge to develop a square magnetic hysteresis loop in a ceramic insulator for the elements of the first random-access memory of the digital computer, a task considered impossible by the magnetic theorists. But, by 1956, a magnetic RAM was delivered having the required read-rewrite speed of under 1 micro-second. It proved to be an important milestone in the development of the digital computer. Goodenough's contributions to this milestone included:

Magnetic core memory extracted from a CDC 6600 computer, circa 1964

Magnetic core memory extracted from a CDC 6600 computer, circa 1964.
Click image to enlarge.

  1. a description of the factors that control the shape of the magnetic hysteresis loop, including a calculation that showed the grain boundaries in a polycrystalline ceramic would not make realization of a squarish B-H loop impossible with the reduced magnetization of a ferrimagnet,
  2. the switching speed was not controlled by eddy currents, as had been assumed by the electrical engineer who invented the RAM concept, but by an intrinsic damping factor and the coercivity of the hysteresis loop,
  3. the concept of lattice distortions arising from cooperative local site orbital order, now referred to as cooperative Jahn-Teller distortions,
  4. the rules for the sign of the spin-spin interatomic interactions (ferromagnetic versus anti-ferromagnetic) that are now referred to as the Goodenough-Kanamori rules, and
  5. the realization that the energy gained by short-range-cooperative orbital ordering at a dilute concentration of Jahn-Teller ions (those with an orbital degeneracy where the orbitals are disordered) could introduce chemical inhomogeneities that can act as subtle centers for the nucleation of domains of reverse-magnetization in a reverse B field that, once nucleated, would grow to switch the magnetization.

For these and other contributions, Goodenough was put in charge of a ceramics group; and for the decade of the 1960s he was permitted to engage in fundamental studies of the transition-metal oxides. Realizing that these oxides permitted study of the transition from localized to itinerant electron behavior among outer d electrons without interference from overlapping broad-band electrons, Goodenough investigated this crossover as a result not only of metal-metal interactions, but also of metal-oxygen-metal interactions.

In this work, he resolved why the metal-oxygen-metal interactions can be strong enough to render d electrons itinerant not only in the single-valent perovskite LaNiO3, but also in the mixed-valent NaxWO3 bronzes and why only the σ-bonding electrons of the metallic, ferromagnetic La1-xSrxMnO3 perovskite is itinerant while the π-bonding electrons remain localized.

In addition, the narrow-band d electrons were shown to give rise to insulator-metal charge-density-wave (CDW) transitions as a result of electron-lattice interactions that change the lattice translational symmetry; he also identified the formation of cation clustering as a result of metal-metal interactions at the crossover from localized to itinerant electronic behavior in single-valent systems.

Goodenough's work from the decades of the 1950s and 1960s was summarized in his book Magnetism and the Chemical Bond (1963) and a long review Metallic Oxides (1971) that was translated into the book Les oxydes des métaux de transition (1974). During the 1960s, his group also developed the ability to do high-pressure synthesis and to measure magnetic properties under pressure that allowed, for example, exploration of high-spin to low-spin d-electron transitions and stabilization with pressure of cubic versus hexagonal stacking in the perovskite polytypes. These early pressure experiments would, in the 1980s, attract a young Chinese student, Jianshi Zhou, to come to Austin to work with him; Jianshi Zhou has stayed on as a colleague to develop a world-recognized high-pressure facility for the study of transition-metal oxides, a class of materials that have numerous important technological applications as well as providing test beds for exploring the conditions under which the assumptions of modern theories of the electronic properties of electrons break down.

In the early 1970s, the first energy crisis challenged Goodenough to turn his attention to materials to enable energy conservation, more efficient energy conversion, and electrical energy storage. Since energy materials was considered to be a topic for the national energy laboratories, not the Air Force MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Goodenough accepted in 1976 an invitation to become the Professor and Head of the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory of the University of Oxford. There he turned his attention to electrochemistry and catalytic chemistry; with his Oxford Group, he developed the layered and spinel oxides used in cathodes in the Li-ion batteries that have enabled the wireless revolution and catalytic concepts for the electrode reactions on oxides in room-temperature as well as high-temperature fuel cells.

In 1986, Goodenough retired from Oxford to accept the Virginia H. Cockrell Centennial Chair of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. In Texas, he has continued work on Li-ion batteries, introducing the olivine cathode LiFePO4; he has developed oxide-ion electrolytes as well as both oxide anodes and cathodes for the solid oxide fuel cell, and he has returned to his fundamental studies of transition-metal oxides with much improved synthetic and characterization facilities thanks to the talented hard work of his colleague Jianshi Zhou. For example, they have shown that, in addition to static CDWs, dynamic phase segregations at the crossover from localized to itinerant electron behavior can give rise to the phenomena of colossal magnetoresistance, first identified in the perovskite manganese oxides, and high-temperature superconductivity in the copper oxides.

In summary, Goodenough's wide-ranging studies have been characterized by a confluence of solid-state physics, solid-state chemistry, and electrochemistry that have transformed our understanding of oxides and their applications in technologies that have transformed society over the last 50 years. In recognition of his contributions, he has received the following awards and honors:


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