Joann Muller
October 20, 2012

photoStanford R. Ovshinsky (Photo: Joi Ito (Flickr), via Wikimedia Commons)

Stanford Ovshinsky, a self-taught chemist and physicist who invented the battery technology that powers most of the world’s smartphones and other mobile devices, died Wednesday at his home in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. He was 89 and had been suffering from cancer, according to Crain’s Detroit Business, which published a lengthy obituary today.

In his 50-year career, Ovshinsky received more than 400 patents in the U.S. and more than 800 foreign patents covering a range of technologies, including nickel-metal hydride batteries, rewritable CDs, DVD optical discs, flat-screen liquid crystal displays, hydrogen fuel cells, thin-film solar cells and others.

With only a high school and trade school education, he parlayed a pair of early inventions into seed money for a company based upon a revolutionary idea of physics: that a random, amorphous collection of atoms would be more powerful and cheaper than structured, crystalline ones to create and store energy and information.

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