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Hybrid vehicle battery creator Stan Ovshinsky dies at age 89

DETROIT -- Stan Ovshinsky, the self-taught inventor who developed the nickel-metal hydride battery used in the hybrid vehicle industry, has died at his home in suburban Detroit after a fight with cancer. He was 89.

Ovshinsky, who ran Energy Conversion Devices, a car battery development company, also created a machine that produced 9-mile-(14 {-kilometer)long sheets of thin solar energy panels intended to bring cheaper, cleaner power to homes and businesses.

His son, Harvey Ovshinsky, said his father was passionate about science and alternative energy, but also about civil rights and other social causes. He said his father died of complications from prostate cancer Wednesday night at his home in Bloomfield Hills.

“Here was a man who spent his youth and his adulthood determined to change the world,” the younger Ovshinsky said. “That's not a 9-to-5 job. My father worked tirelessly 24-7, even up until he got sick, to change the world and its attitude toward sustainable energy and alternate platforms for information.”

Stan Ovshinsky, for whom ovonics was named, made possible such technological discoveries as the solar-powered calculator. Ovonics changes the electrical resistance and structure of materials in response to sunlight.

He never went to college, yet he earned about 200 U.S. patents and was a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received numerous honorary degrees.

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