How It All Began: The Voltaic Pile

/ / Battery Technology
Grüner Frosch vor weißem Hintergrund

In the year 1800, Italian physicist Alessandro Volta presented his latest invention to the Royal Society in London. His Voltaic Pile was the first battery. For the first time, a permanent flow of electricity could be created and held over a long period; a scientific sensation that paved the way into the electric age.

The Start and The Frog

The story of Volta’s ground-breaking invention began with a frog. More precisely, with its thighs. At the end of the 18th century, the Italian anatomy professor Luigi Galvani discovered, while experimenting with prepared frog legs, a twitching sensation of the legs while being touched with different metals. For Galvani, this was the proof: the legs contain electrical energy that is released by contact with the metal.

Volta vehemently contradicted this theory of “animal electricity”, as Galvani named the phenomenon. For him it was clear: it is the metal that provides electricity for the twitching of the thighs. In the following years, a scientific dispute broke out on this issue, in which other scientists also took part, and consequently fueled Volta’s determination. With the help of various trials, he wanted to prove his theory.

At the end of a series of experiments stands the Voltaic Pile, which is made up of many so-called Volta components. One component consists of two copper and zinc plates stacked on top of each other. Between the two metals there is a piece of acid-soaked cardboard or leather that increases the electrical conductivity. Volta’s theory was thus proven, and the world’s first battery was born – without any frogs at all.

Lithium Replaces Copper and Zinc

Volta received a special honor for this pioneering invention. In 1861, more than three decades after his death in 1827, the unit of measurement for electrical voltage was named after him. His birthday on February 18, commemorates the physicist’s life’s work, as it is internationally celebrated as “Battery Day”.

His invention became an indispensable part of our everyday lives. Over time, copper and zinc have been replaced by lithium, as the leading chemistry in battery technology. Since the 1970’s, Jauch contributes valuable development. Whether medical technology, telecommunications or automotive industries, customers worldwide benefit from individually designed battery solutions. At the Battery Academy, our experts pass on their knowledge in the field of battery technology to interested innovators.