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Illinois Nano EP Seminar Series Fall 2011: Stanford's Ovshinsky's Nerve-cell Analogy and the Field of Amorphous and Disordered Materials

By Lillian Hoddeson

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign the career of Stanford Ovshinsky, the prolific self-educated inventor of energy and information devices, illustrates how making radical crossdisciplinary analogies can lead to pioneering discoveries in science. Based on his earlier work machining tools and studying neurophysiology, Ovshinsky developed an analogy between a nerve cell and a switch that brought him to discover a class of amorphous and disordered materials with which he created numerous devices that have been in widespread use (including the nickel metal hydride battery, rewritable CDs and DVDs, flat screen liquid crystal displays, phase-change switches, and thin-film amorphous silicon solar panels).


Lillian Hoddeson Prof. Lillian Hoddeson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of History

She is a professor emerita in the department of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her areas of expertise are 20th century US science and technology, industrial research, particle physics, solid-state physics, big science, and nuclear weapons.


wrote the book "True Genius: The Life and Science of John Bardeen" with Vicki Daitch in 2002.



MNTL 1000, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL


Javid Mohammed Ali

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tags, a resource for nanoscience and nanotechnology, is supported by the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.