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


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Over the past 50 years, the Ovshinskys have invented a number of useful products, most based on Stan's early insight into to disordered amorphous materials. Here are a few of his inventions:


Thin film photovoltaics
Photo of Mir Space station
Photovoltaic cells (PVs) convert sunlight into usable electricity. In theory, we could use PVs to meet all our energy needs; the supply of sunlight is virtually boundless and there are no greenhouse gas emissions involved. Instead of the traditional heavy glass, Stan Ovshinsky utilized the characteristics of amorphous materials to make a light, flexible substrate for photovoltaics. These thin film photovoltaics have been turned into roof shingles, bring affordable energy to remote villages, even helped power the Mir space station.


Nickel metal hydride batteries
Photo of electric car

All batteries create electricity when electrons flow from the negative terminal to the positive terminal. Utilizing the features of disordered materials, Stan Ovshinsky invented a rechargeable battery that's longer lasting, lighter and takes up only a third as much space as a conventional battery. He says it's environmentally safe, too, for instance lacking the lead found in traditional auto batteries. In an NiMH battery, the negative electrode is the metal hydride and the positive is nickel hydroxide. Now they are used in everything from cell phones, to laptop computers, to electric and hybrid cars.

 

Rewritable CD and DVDs
Photo of Stan in front of an Oscilloscope

Before anyone was even buying music on CD, Stan Ovshinsky had figured out how the compact disk would be the perfect medium for a data storage technique called reversible optical memory. The technology relies on Stan's original insight that disordered materials - unlike a crystal, for instance - lack a fixed pattern in their structural organization. When energy is added to the system, disordered materials can shift to a more structured state. As the material switches to a more organized state, it transforms from being a nonconductor to a semiconductor. This conductivity change is named the Ovshinsky Effect. The phase change opened the door for rewritable CDs and DVDs that can physically change thousands of times and hold much more data than a conventional floppy disk.

More inventions


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4 pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

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