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The Man Who Saw TomorrowThe Life and Inventions of Stanford R. Ovshinsky$
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Lillian Hoddeson and Peter Garrett

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780262037532

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262037532.001.0001

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New Beginnings in the Storefront (1960–1964)

New Beginnings in the Storefront (1960–1964)

(p.93) 5 New Beginnings in the Storefront (1960–1964)
The Man Who Saw Tomorrow

Lillian Hoddeson

Peter Garrett

The MIT Press

In late 1959, Iris was at last able to join Ovshinsky in Detroit, and they began creating a new family with her two young children and his three sons. This was also a new beginning in Ovshinsky’s inventive career, as he and Iris started their novel company, Energy Conversion Laboratory. Here, in a modest storefront, Ovshinsky made his most important discovery: a threshold switch composed of amorphous chalcogenide materials. The threshold switch’s almost instantaneous and reversible action, something previously considered impossible, as well as its capacity to handle large AC currents, distinguished it from crystalline semiconductor devices like the transistor. Such switching, now known as “the Ovshinsky effect,” was a radically new phenomenon that would force a paradigm shift in condensed matter physics. A slightly different material composition yielded the memory switch, the basis of phase-change memory.

Keywords:   Energy Conversion Laboratory, threshold switch, amorphous chalcogenide materials, Ovshinsky effect, phase-change memory

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