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Alessandro Volta (February 18, 1745 – March 5, 1827)

Alessandro Volta was an Italian physicist who invented the electric battery (1800), which for the first time enabled the reliable and sustained supply of current.

Feb 18_Forum_Sciencescript_Open_Access_Alessandro Volta
In 1774, Volta became professor of physics at the Royal School of Como. In 1775, Volta’s interest in electricity led him to invent the electrophorus, device which provided a source of electric potential utilizing the principle of electrostatic induction. By 1778, discovered and isolated methane gas.

In 1786, Luigi Galvani discovered that a frog’s prepared leg could be made to contract if he merely attached a copper hook to the nerve ending and then pressed the hook against an iron plate on which the leg was resting so as to complete an electrical circuit. In Galvani’s work, the frogs’ legs had served two functions – They conducted electricity as conductors of the second kind also acted as a very sensitive electroscope detecting electricity.

Volta found that by connecting up lots of pairs of metals connected with moist card, he could produce significant electrical currents. In 1800, he invented a wet battery called a Voltaic Pile, consisted of discs of copper and zinc separated by discs of paper or cardboard (soaked in salt water). Electricity flowed through the pile ,When a copper wire attached to the top and bottom of this “Pile” closed the circuit.In 1801 in Paris, he gave a demonstration of his battery’s generation of electric current before Napoleon, who made Volta a count. In 1815, The emperor of Austria made him director of the philosophical faculty at the University of Padua. In 1881, The volt, a unit of the electromotive force that drives current, was named in his honour.

He retired in 1819 to his family home near Como and died there on March 5, 1827.

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