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Portrait after an oil painting of Count Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), Italian physicist and inventor of the electric battery. Volta was born into an aristocratic family, and held professorships at the universities of Como and Pavia. He became interested in electricity in 1786 after the work of Galvani. In 1799 he made his first battery. This consisted of alternating discs of silver and zinc with brine-soaked card between them. This produced a steady electric current and was the first reliable source of electricity. He was made a Count by Napoleon, and did little further work. The SI unit of electrical potential, the volt (V), is named after him.
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