How Old Is This Battery ?

An early form of electrochemical battery called the Baghdad Battery may have been used in antiquity.However, the modern development of batteries started with the Voltaic pile, invented by the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta in 1800.

In 1780 the Italian anatomist and physiologist Luigi Galvani noticed that dissected frog's legs would twitch when struck by a spark from a Leyden jar, an external source of electricity .In 1786 he noticed that twitching would occur during lightning storms. After many years Galvani learned how to produce twitching without using any external source of electricity . In 1791 he published a report on "animal electricity ." He created an electric circuit consisting of the frog's leg (FL) and two different metals A and B, each metal touching the frog's leg and each other, thus producing the circuit A-FL-B-A-FL-B...etc. In modern terms, the frog's leg served as both the electrolyte and the sensor, and the metals served as electrodes. He noticed that even though the frog was dead, its legs would twitch when he touched them with the metals.

Within a year, Volta realized the frog's moist tissues could be replaced by cardboard soaked in salt water, and the frog's muscular response could be replaced by another form of electrical detection. He already had studied the electrostatic phenomenon of capacitance, which required measurements of electric charge and of electrical potential ("tension"). Building on this experience, Volta was able to detect electric current through his system, also called a Galvanic cell. The terminal voltage of a cell that is not discharging is called its electromotive force (emf), and has the same unit as electrical potential, named (voltage) and measured in volts, in honor of Volta. In 1800, Volta invented the battery by placing many voltaic cells in series, literally piling them one above the other. This Voltaic pile gave a greatly enhanced net emf for the combination,with a voltage of about 50 volts for a 32-cell pile.In many parts of Europe batteries continue to be called piles.

Volta did not appreciate that the voltage was due to chemical reactions. He thought that his cells were an inexhaustible source of energy, and that the associated chemical effects were a mere nuisance, rather than an unavoidable consequence of their operation, as Michael Faraday showed in 1834.According to Faraday, cations are attracted to the cathode,and anions are attracted to the anode.

Although early batteries were of great value for experimental purposes, in practice their voltages fluctuated and they could not provide a large current for a sustained period. Later, starting with the Daniell cell in 1836, batteries provided more reliable currents and were adopted by industry for use in stationary devices, particularly in telegraph networks where they were the only practical source of electricity , since electrical distribution networks did not then exist. These wet cells used liquid electrolytes, which were prone to leakage and spillage if not handled correctly. Many used glass jars to hold their components, which made them fragile. These characteristics made wet cells unsuitable for portable appliances. Near the end of the nineteenth century, the invention of dry cell batteries, which replaced the liquid electrolyte with a paste, made portable electrical devices practical.

Since then, batteries have gained popularity as they became portable and useful for a variety of purposes.


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