Prof Rachid Yazami, a research director from CNRS seconded to the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) of Singapore, recently won the 2014 Draper Prize. His co-recipients are Akira Yoshini and Yoshio Nishi from Japan and John Goodenough from America.

The Draper Prize, awarded for excellence in the engineering sciences, is as prestigious as the Nobel Prize.  Given by the American National Academy of Engineering (NAE), the Prize comes with a cash reward of USD 500,000. 

Each year, the Draper Prize goes to a researcher whose work is in a specific domain.  This year, the chosen domain is lithium batteries.

This is the first time that the Prize was given to a resident in Singapore.

During his PhD studies, Rachid Yazami was the first scientist to succeed in inserting lithium in graphite in a reversible manner. This helped to establish a new generation of anode which in turn led to the creation of rechargeable lithium batteries.

Rachid Yazami’s work, combined with the cathode developed by John Goodenough, allowed Akira Yoshino to realize a lithium ion battery prototype, which Yoshio Nishi then commercialized in 1991, and which is now the standard.

Today lithium batteries are present in almost all portable electronic devices. The main advantages of these batteries are their high power density and low self-discharge.

Rachid Yazami, John Goodenough, Akira Yoshino and Yoshio Nishi are thus the inventors of the lithium ion battery which today has a growing market share of USD 15 billion yearly.

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