John Bannister Goodenough (/ GUUD-in-uf; born July 25, 1922) is an American materials scientist and solid-state physicist. A Nobel laureate in chemistry, he is a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Texas at Austin. He is widely credited with the identification and development of the lithium-ion battery, for developing the Goodenough–Kanamori rules in determining the sign of the magnetic superexchange in materials, and for seminal developments in computer random access memory.
Goodenough was born in Jena, Germany, to American parents. During and after graduating from Yale University, Goodenough served as a U.S. military meteorologist in World War II. He went on to obtain his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Chicago, became a researcher at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and later the head of the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory at the University of Oxford. Since 1986, he has been a professor in the school of engineering at UT Austin.
He has been awarded the National Medal of Science, the Copley Medal, the Fermi Award, the Draper Prize, and the Japan Prize. The John B Goodenough Award in materials science is named for him. In 2019, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and, at 97 years old, became the oldest Nobel laureate in history.
Early life and education
John Goodenough was born in Jena, Germany, to American parents, Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough (1893–1965) and Helen Miriam (Lewis) Goodenough. His father was working on his Ph.D. at the Harvard Divinity School at the time of John's birth and later became a professor in the history of religion at Yale University. John's brother was the late University of Pennsylvania anthropologist Ward Goodenough. The brothers attended boarding school at Groton in Massachusetts. In 1944, John Goodenough received a B.S. in Mathematics, summa cum laude, from Yale, where he was a member of Skull and Bones.
After serving in the US Army as a meteorologist in World War II, Goodenough went to the University of Chicago to complete a masters and was awarded a Ph.D. in physics in 1952. His doctoral supervisor was electrical breakdown theorist Clarence Zener and he worked and studied with physicists, including Enrico Fermi and John A. Simpson. While at Chicago, he met and married history graduate student Irene Wiseman.