Count Alessandro Volta was a Italian scientist and physicist who contributed in the development of an electrical energy source from chemical action in 1800.
For the first time, electrical energy was available on a continuous basis and could be used for practical purposes.
He also developed the first condenser known today as the capacitor. He has invited to Paris to demonstrate the
voltaic cell to Napoleon. The International Electrical Congress meeting in Paris in 1881 honored his
efforts by choosing the volt as the unit of measure for electromotive force.
How he discovered voltaic cell?
Alessandro Volta, a physicist at the nearby University of Pavia, had been studying how electricity stimulates the senses of touch, taste, and sight. When Volta put a metal coin on top of his tongue and another coin of a different metal under his tongue and connected their surfaces with a wire, the coins tasted salty. Like Galvani, Volta assumed that he was working with animal electricity until 1796 when he discovered that he could also produce a current when he substituted a piece of cardboard soaked in brine for his tongue. Volta correctly conjectured that the effect was caused by the contact between metal and a moist body. Around 1800 he constructed what is now known as a voltaic pile consisting of layers of silver, moist cardboard, and zinc, repeated in that order, beginning and ending with a different metal. When he joined the silver and the zinc with a wire, electricity flowed continuously through the wire. Volta confirmed that the effects of his pile were equivalent in every way to those of static electricity.
Volta became professor of physics at the Royal School of Como in 1774. In 1775 his interest in electricity led him to improve the electrophorus, a device used to generate static electricity. He discovered and isolated methane gas in 1776. Three years later he was appointed to the chair of physics at the University of Pavia.
In 1791 Volta's friend Luigi Galvani announced that the contact of two different metals with the leg muscles of a skinned frog resulted in the generation of an electric current that caused the leg to twitch. Galvani interpreted that as a new form of electricity found in living tissue, which he called "animal electricity." Volta felt that the frog merely conducted a current that flowed between the two metals, which he called "metallic electricity." He began experimenting in 1792 with metals alone. (He would detect the weak flow of electricity between disks of different metals by placing them on his tongue.) Volta found that animal tissue was not needed to produce a current. That provoked much controversy between the animal-electricity adherents and the metallic-electricity advocates, but, with his announcement of the first electric battery in 1800, victory was assured for Volta.
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