Photo/IllutrationAkira Yoshino, co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2019, gives a Nobel lecture at Stockholm University on Dec. 8. (Kazuhiro Nagashima)

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STOCKHOLM--Nobel Prize laureate Akira Yoshino said lithium-ion batteries will play a key role in achieving a sustainable society in his speech at Stockholm University on Dec. 8.

His Nobel lecture, titled “Brief History and Future of Lithium-ion Batteries,” was part of regular commemorative events held ahead of the Nobel Prize awards ceremony on Dec. 10.

An honorary fellow at Asahi Kasei Corp., he talked for about 30 minutes in front of students and associates gathered in the hall of the university.

Yoshino, 71, who shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry earlier this year for his work on lithium-ion batteries, explained that he started his research at Asahi Kasei in 1981 and applied for basic patents to use carbon materials for the negative electrode of batteries.

He provided old footage to show that his experiments on batteries did not cause fires or explosions, emphasizing that a high safety level is indispensable for commercial use.

Yoshino said the footage captures the moment “when lithium-ion batteries were born.”

Lithium-ion batteries, which can store electricity created by solar power and other renewable sources, are expected to help decrease the use of fossil fuels.

Yoshino said “my message to the world” is that technological innovations will pave the way to “a sustainable society that can be achieved very soon,” and that lithium-ion batteries will “play the central role.”

Research into lithium-ion batteries is closely linked to two other subjects--conductive polymers and frontier orbitals, Yoshino said. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2000 was awarded for research into conductive polymers, while the 1981 award honored developments in frontier orbitals.

Yoshino jokingly said lithium-ion batteries are a “very fortunate fellow” supported by eight Nobel laureates, referring to the total number of recipients of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1981, 2000 and 2019, including Hideki Shirakawa and Kenichi Fukui.