The inventor of the nickel-metal hydride batteries, Stanford Ovshinsky, has died aged 89…
Stanford Ovshinsky, after whom the field of ovonics was named, died after a battle with prostate cancer on October 17.
Ovshinsky owned over 200 patents and introduced the concept of glass transistors in 1968, which eventually led to the creation of modern flat-screen monitors. He created the term “ovonics” to describe the development of “nondepletable, non-polluting” energy source technology, aiming to reduce fossil fuel dependency through development of solar and hydrogen technologies. He also designed the process of applying thin layers of amorphous material on plastic and stainless steel sheets, which led to the creation of rewritable computer and DVD discs.
Ovshinsky co-founded the manufacturing company Energy Conversion Devices with his second wife, Iris. Located in Michigan, the US automotive capital, Energy Conversion Devices produces flexible thin film photovoltaic (PV) panels, as well as Ovshinsky’s nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, which are still used in many hybrid vehicles. A year after Iris’s death in 2006 Ovshinsky left ECD and established Ovshinsky Innovation LLC to develop further innovative energy and information technology.
In 1997 he claimed that US energy and auto companies found his work threatening to their profits. He told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Of course the oil companies are not very happy…and the automotive companies would like to postpone the day of change as long as they can. I don’t relish the role of being a prophet in the wilderness. But I recognize that we’re agents of change and change is difficult.”
Ovshinsky had no formal education after high school, instead claiming to have taught himself science using public libraries in his home town in Ohio.
He is survived by his third wife, Rosa, his brother, seven children, and six grandchildren.