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Meet the Ovshinskys 4 pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

by Maggie Villiger

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Image of Stan as a Hero for the Planet
May 19 , 2004 — T
he solid hydrogen storage system Stan and Iris Ovshinsky showed Alan at the Challenge Bibendum is just one of the many inventions to come out of their partnership.

Since the 1950s, Stan Ovshinsky has been a pioneer in the new field of disordered materials, which utilizes the properties of substances that don't have the ordered structure of a crystal, for instance.The Ovshinkys founded Energy Conversion Devices to develop disordered materials technology and to figure out how to use the technology to solve serious societal problems. They decided to concentrate their efforts on questions of energy production and storage. Hundreds of patents, five children and 45-years later, they are still at it:

Read an interview with Stan and Iris and check out a list of Ovshinsky's inventions.
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SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS: Working as a team is not usually the easiest. How do you make it work?

STAN: By being in love I think.

IRIS: We're very, very lucky because many people over the years have sort of said to us, "Oh my God I couldn't work with my wife, etcetera. How do you do it?" And we just like to be together.


"We just work together in everything. And there's just Stan-Iris, or Iris-Stan."


STAN: It works out wonderfully well. We're continuously talking things over. I'm the inventor, and Iris is a wonderful contributor, and she's very wise, makes some good suggestions…. She has her Ph.D. in biochemistry. I couldn't do it without her. Nor could I have achieved the things we did without her. It's just been a great experience, a great life, not only fulfilling as an inventor, but as a way of living.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS: That's a very inspirational picture that you paint. What about your personalities do you think is important in your pairing and also that makes you successful as an inventing team?

Photo of Stan and Iris

Stan and Iris standing in front of 30 MW machine which is longer than a football field.

STAN: I think the fact that we share common values. Iris is so bright that I can talk to her about anything and then-- I'm able to address the things that I need to have in hand. We work every day including weekends, doing things that fit into our work. And we work at night when we can, and come home from work here. We're fortunate that we're only about six minutes from our labs.

IRIS: As Stan said, the shared values are so important. We founded ECD with the express purpose of using science and technology to solve serious societal problems. And both of us are dedicated to that, and that's why everything we've done has been to make for a better environment and better life for people.

STAN: Therefore it's never been argumentative or debating in the way people might do. I love criticisms from her. We just work together in everything. And there's just Stan-Iris, or Iris-Stan.
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4 pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

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Photo of Stan and Iris: Eikoh Hosoe

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