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OXFORD SCIENCE ARCHIVE / HERITAGE IMAGES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY OXFORD SCIENCE ARCHIVE / HERITAGE IMAGES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Alessandro Volta's wet pile or battery, 1800. Italian physicist Volta (1745-1827) was the inventor of the voltaic pile, an early battery and the first source of current electricity. This consisted of two different metals, separated by chemicals in order to enable a flow of electricity. In 1775, he invented the electrophorus, a precursor of the induction machine, and in 1777 he invented an 'inflammable air' electric pistol. The unit of electromotive force 'volt' is named after him. From Volta's paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London, 1800.
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