Alessandro Volta

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Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta (1745-1827)

Count Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta (18 February 1745 – 5 March 1827) was a Lombard physicist known especially for the development of the first electrical cell in 1800. He was born in Como in Lombardy, Italy.

Volta worked on the electrophorus that makes a static electric charge in 1775. Volta also studied what we now call capacitance, developing separate means to study both electrical potential V and charge Q, and discovering that for a given object they are proportional. This may be called Volta's Law of Capacitance, and likely for this work the unit of electrical potential has been named the volt. Around 1791 he began to study "animal electricity". In this way he discovered Volta's Law of the electrochemical series, and the law that the electromotive force (emf $\mathcal{E}$) of a galvanic cell. In 1800, he invented the voltaic pile, an early electric battery, which made a steady electric current. It is credited as the first electrochemical cell.

In honor of his work in the field of electricity, Napoleon Bonaparte made him a count in 1810. A museum in Como, the Voltian Temple, has been built in his honor and exhibits some of the original equipment he used to conduct experiments. In 1881, an important electrical unit, the volt(V), was named in his honor. There have also been innovations and discoveries named after Alessandro Volta including the Chevy Volt, and the Volta Crater on the Moon.

Volta married the daughter of Count Ludovico Peregrini, Teresa. They raised three sons. In 1779 he became professor of experimental physics at the University of Pavia. He had the job for almost 25 years. Volta is buried in the city of Como. At the Tempio Voltiano near Lake Como there is a museum about him and his work.