Alesandro Volta, Italian physicist and inventor, c 1820.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Photogravure after an earlier engraving by Garavaglia, c 1820. Count Alesandro Giuseppe Anastasio Volta (1745-1827) was the inventor of the voltaic pile, an early battery and the first source of current electricity. It 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 an 'inflammable air' electric pistol. The SI (international standard) unit of electromotive force, the volt (V), is named after him. From a collection of portraits of scientists published by Photographische Gesellschaft, Berlin, c 1910. Dimensions: 460mm x 340mm.