Stan Ovshinsky’s face was reflected in one of his inventions, an Ovonic quantum control device.
Stan Ovshinsky’s face was reflected in one of his inventions, an Ovonic quantum control device.
Joe Polimeni/Energy Conversion Devices

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.

Mr. Ovshinsky, 89, who ran Energy Conversion Devices, a car battery development company, also created a machine to produce 9-mile-long sheets of thin solar energy panels.

His son, Harvey, said Mr. Ovshinsky 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 in Bloomfield Hills.

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‘‘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 inventions as the solar-powered calculator. Ovonics changes the electrical resistance and structure of materials in response to sunlight.

Born in Akron, Ohio, he received numerous honorary degrees but no formal college education is listed in biographical information provided by his family.

Mr. Ovshinsky founded Energy Conversion Devices Inc. in 1960 with his late wife, Iris. The company developed and applied his inventions to the fields of information and energy.

‘‘Back then the environment was not a problem,’’ he said in 2001. ‘‘The only answer is to generate new industry that answers the problems and provides jobs.’’