Italian physicist (1745-1827)
As a professor of physics in Como,
Alessandro Volta did experiments with electricity, basing his study on the work
done by his friend Luigi Galvani. Galvani had noticed that the muscles in the
legs of a dead frog started to vibrate if they came into contact with two
different metals. While he thought that this was caused by the presence of ‘animal
electricity' in the muscles, Volta believed that
the current was generated by the metals, and that this is what caused the
vibrations. This is how his discovery of the electrical circuit began.
In 1800, Volta stacked small sheets of silver and zinc on top of each other with intermediate layers of salty water, and showed that electrical current passed through it if the circuit was closed. He hereby created the first battery, which later became known as the Voltaic Pile. His contribution to science is remembered in the name of the unit of electric potential difference, the volt.