Who was Alessandro Volta?


Quick Answer

Alessandro Volta was an Italian physicist credited for the invention of the electric battery in 1800. He also made discoveries in electrostatics, meteorology and pneumatics. The word "volt," named after Volta, is a measurement of electricity.

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Full Answer

Alessandro Volta's most notable invention was an electrical device called the voltaic pile. It was made of alternating discs of zinc and copper, with each pair separated by a brine-soaked cloth. The device produced a steady stream of electricity when a wire was attached to either end of the disk, making it the first direct-current battery. Upon its invention, the voltaic pile was initially called "artificial electric organ" because of the similarities it shared with the electric organ of the torpedo dish. However, when Napoleon made Volta a count in 1801, the electrical unit was known as the volt in his honor. The invention of the voltaic pile led to the invention of the electrical battery and breakthroughs in electrochemistry, electromagnetism and the modern applications of electricity. Alessandro Volta enjoyed much success for his inventions and contribution to the experimental sciences of the 18th century. Alessandro Volta retired in 1819 to his estate in Camnago, Lombardy, Italy, where died on March 5, 1827, at the age of 82.

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