Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electric battery

Alessandro Volta

February 18, 1745, in Como (Italy) – March 5, 1827, in Como (Italy)

The family of Count Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta wanted him to pursue a legal career, therefore, his basic and secondary education were in the humanities. However, upon reaching higher education, he opted for what interested him most, a scientific training in physics and chemistry.

In 1774, he began working as a physics teacher at the Royal School in his hometown. A year later, Volta made his first invention, the perpetual electrophore, a device that allowed direct electric current to be produced by means of three metal discs separated by a wet conductor, but joined with an external circuit. This, once it is charged, can transfer electricity to other objects and generate static electricity.

Between 1776 and 1778, he devoted himself to chemistry, discovering and isolating methane gas.

In 1779, he was appointed full professor of experimental physics at the University of Pavia (Italy).

In 1794, Volta based on the idea of his friend Luigi Galvani that two different metals in contact with the muscle of a frog caused a contraction of the same and that it must be due to the appearance of an electric current, he also began to make his own experiments concluding that animal muscle tissue was not necessary to produce electrical current.

Two variants arose regarding this theme, the supporters of animal electricity and the defenders of metallic electricity, which generated a strong controversy that was resolved when Volta managed to build his first electric battery on March 20, 1800, demonstrating the hypothesis of he.

Pila y condensador de Alessandro Volta

Volta wrote a letter to Sir Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society of London at that time, to announce his invention and it was read before the members of the society on June 26 of that same year. After repeating the invention several times, it was confirmed and credit was given to Volta's electric battery.

Volta gained great recognition throughout Europe:

  • In September 1801, he accepted an invitation from Napoleon Bonaparte to go to Paris and show the characteristics of his invention at the Institute of France. Bonaparte himself participated in the talks and only two months later, on November 2, a commission of scientists from the French Academy of Sciences issued a report ensuring its validity.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte was pleasantly impressed with Volta's invention, assigned him an annual pension and named him a Knight of the Legion of Honor and awarded him the highest distinction of the institution, the gold medal for scientific merit.
  • In 1806, he became a knight of the Royal Italian Order of the Iron Crown.
  • In 1809, he senator of the Kingdom of Lombardy.
  • In 1810, he Count of the Kingdom of Italy.
  • In 1815, the Emperor of Austria appointed him director of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Padua and his works were published in 5 volumes in 1816 in Florence.

The last years of Volta's life were spent on his farm in Camnago, near Como in Italy.

As curiosities, a lunar astrobleme, an asteroid, a mineral (Voltaite), a unit of the International System (the volt), electrical tension (popularly known as voltage) and even a Toyota car bear his name in honor of this scientist who made a great contribution to science.

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