Count Alessandro Giuseppe
Antonio Anastasio Volta
(born: February 18, 1745 / died: March 5, 1827)
Count Alessandro Volta
|Volta was born and educated in Como Italy, where he
became professor of physics at the Royal School in 1774.
His passion had always been the study of electricity, and still
a young student he had even written a poem in Latin on this fascinating new
discovery. De vi attractiva ignis electrici ac phaenomenis inde pendentibus
is his first scientific paper. In 1775 he devised the electrophorus, a device
that produced a static electric charge. In 1776-77 he studied gas chemistry,
discovered methane, and devised experiments such as the ignition of gases
by an electric spark in a closed vessel. In 1779 he became professor of physics
at the University of Pavia, a chair he occupied for 25 years.
|In 1800, as the result of a professional disagreement over the galvanic
response advocated by Luigi Galvani, he developed the so-called voltaic pile,
a forerunner of the electric battery, which produced a steady electric current.
Volta had determined that the most effective pair of dissimilar metals to
produce electricity was zinc and silver. Initially he experimented with individual
cells in series, each cell being a wine goblet filled with brine into which
the two dissimilar electrodes were dipped. The electric pile replaced the
goblets with cardboard soaked in brine and was limited by the weight that
the bottom cell would withstand before all the brine was squeezed out of
In honor of his work in the field of electricity, Napoleon made him a count in 1810 and in 1815 the Emperor of Austria named him a professor of philosophy at Padua.
In 1881 the electrical unit known as the 'volt' was named in his honor.