TOKYO – Nearly 30 years ago, while scientists in North America and Europe were pondering the theoretical properties of lithium-ion batteries, a young Japanese research engineer was working on what Japan does best: mass producing them. His name is not in the popular histories of Li-ion battery development, yet his patents still hold and his achievements are impressive. Akira Yoshino, now 62, still works at leading chemical-supplier Asahi Kasei Corp., where today he heads the company’s ...

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