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Stanford R. Ovshinsky

Stanford Ovshinsky - Ohio Solar Pioneer - 1922-2012

See Self-Taught Maverick in Electronics - New York Times - October 18, 2012

Stanford Ovshinsky was cut from the same mold as Brush.  Born in Akron, the son of a Lithuanian scrap metal dealer, Ovshinsky opened a successful machine shop after high school. The lack of a college education did not halt Ovshinsky's intellectual development. The self-taught inventor has been hailed as the pioneer of a new field of materials science based on "disordered non-crystalline substances."  Ovshinsky and his wife Iris founded Energy Conversion Devices, headquartered in Michigan, in 1960. Ovshinsky and his lab own 250 American patents, the three most famous being a flexible, thin film solar cell, called a shingle, in the 1970s; the Ovonic battery, a environmentally friendly nickel hydride battery developed in the 1980s and a scooter powered by solid hydrogren fuel. Photovoltaics developed by Ovshinsky's company were installed in the Russian space station MIR in 1998.

Ovonic batteries powering electronic cars have won the American Tour de Sol races for seven straight years.   GM's EV-1 electric car, which premiered in 1999, ran on advanced Ovonic batteries.
 Ovshinsky has been regaled with many honors, among them Time Magazine's "Hero of the Planet" award in 1999.  MIT Press named him one of the 35 American inventors who shaped the modern world.  Ohio has reclaimed this native son. Ovshinsky recently started construction on a 170,000 square-foot plant in Springboro, Ohio (south of Dayton) for the manufacture of the latest Ovonic battery.  This investment by the  Buckeye-born inventor prompted Ohio Governor Robert Taft to name a street in Springboro Ovonic Way.

Text courtesy of Steve Ostrander