Alessandro Volta

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Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) An Italian physicist known for the discovery of the electric battery. Volta was born and educated in Como Italy, where he bacame professor of physics at the Royal School in 1774. In 1775 he devised the electrophorus, an instrument that produced a static electric charge. In 1776-77 he studied gas chemistry, 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 stream of electricity.

In honor of his work in the field of electricity, Napoleon made him a count in 1801. The electrical unit known as the volt was named in his honor.