Who was once the ‘Solar Queen’ biophysicist who championed photo voltaic en…

Pioneering Hungarian-American physicist Maria Telkes, an early champion of the probabilities of solar energy, is being remembered at the 122nd anniversary of her start and the seventieth anniversary of her profitable the inaugural Society of Girls Engineers Success Award on 12 December 1952.

Dr Telkes was once born in Budapest, Hungary, in this date in 1900 and studied bodily chemistry on the town’s Eotvos Lorand College from 1920, incomes her doctorate in 1924.

After graduating, she emigrated to america the place she had a relative based totally on the Hungarian consul in Cleveland, Ohio, and took a series of study roles, first of all operating as a biophysicist investigating brain waves on the Cleveland Health facility Basis – the place she co-wrote the ebook Phenomenon of Lifestyles together with her mentor, George Washington Crile – after which for Westinghouse finding out the conversion of warmth into electrical energy.

Granted American citizenship in 1937, she then took a task with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) finding out solar power in 1939.

After america entered the Second World War following the bombing of Pearl Harbour, Washington appointed Telkes as a civilian consultant to the Place of work of Clinical Analysis and Construction, through which function she evolved a solar-powered desalination gadget, designed to supply infantrymen and civilians with blank consuming water distilled from seawater in antagonistic and arid environments, now not least the Pacific.

After the struggle, Dr Telkes became her consideration against growing solar-powered properties, realising that storing thermal power can be a urgent downside and believing molten salts may just give you the resolution.

Alternatively, when a design focused round Glauber’s salt (sodium sulphate) failed, Dr Telkes was once blamed by means of Hoyt C Hottel, chairman of MIT’s solar power fund, and got rid of from the mission.

Persisting independently, she labored at the Dover Solar Space in partnership with architect Elearnor Raymond and philanthropist Amelia Peabody, a brand new fashion house that relied at the solar melting Glauber’s salt at the back of glass by means of warming the air surrounding it, a procedure that during flip trapped the warmth and launched it because it cooled in order that it may well be flippantly dispensed by means of hid electrical enthusiasts.

To begin with a hit and attracting acclaim from In style Science mag and a visiting public, the mission later bumped into issues and an detrimental document into the operating of MIT’s photo voltaic division duly noticed Dr Telkes drummed out of the establishment in 1953.

Maria Telkes remembered in Google’s newest Doodle


Undeterred, she relocated to New York University’s School of Engineering and evolved a solar-powered oven to be used in faraway places with the enhance of a Ford Basis grant.

After a number of years operating in business within the Sixties for Curtiss-Wright Corporate, Cryo-Therm and Melpar, Dr Telkes returned to academia and the advance of home solar energy, first on the College of Delaware’s Institute of Power Conversion on the decade’s finish, the place she labored on photovoltaic cells, and later labored for america Division of Power.

Talking on the first World Convention of Girls Engineers and Scientists in New York in 1964, Maria Telkes informed her target market: “It’s the issues intended to be not possible that passion me. I care to do issues they are saying can’t be completed.”

A real visionary with greater than 20 patents to her identify, she gave up the ghost in her local Budapest on 2 December 1995, simply 10 days shy of her 95 birthday.

She was once featured within the Google Doodle on 12 December 2022.

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