Alesandro Volta, Italian physicist and inventor, c 1810.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Alesandro Volta (1745-1827), print showing Volta demonstrating his voltaic pile to Napoleon. Italian physicist and inventor of the voltaic pile, an early battery. This consisted of two different metals, separated by chemicals in order to enable a flow of electricity. It had previously been thought (Galvani) that animal tisue was neccesary to generate electricity. The unit of electromotive force 'volt' is named after him.