Google sparks up animated doodle for father of the battery Alessandro Volta

18 Feb 2015

Web users will be positively supercharged and electrified by a beautiful new animated doodle today that marks the 270th birthday of the inventor of the battery, Alessandro Volta.

The superb doodle on Google’s homepage is modelled on one of Volta’s prototype machines and shows a valve compressing to suddenly light up the word Google.

The doodle is also adorned with the chemical formula and materials Volta would have used to make the world’s first battery.

Volta was an Italian physicist who was born in 1745 in the north Italian town of Como. In 1774, he became professor of physics at the Royal School in Como.

He improved the electrophorus device that produced static electricity, as well as researching and discovering methane.

He studied the first electrical capacitors and created Volta’s Law of capacitance, giving the name to the unit of electricity known as the volt.

The Google Doodle in honour of physicist Alessandro Volta

In response to Luigi Galvani’s discovery of electrolytes, Volta pressed his energies into electrochemical studies and invented the voltaic pile, an early electric battery that could produce a steady electric current.

He found the most effective pair of dissimilar metals to produce electricity were zinc and silver and he created the first rudimentary batteries using wine goblets filled with brine.

The first electrochemical cell – aka, the world’s first battery – consisted of two electrodes, one made of zinc and another of copper.

Today’s doodle contains two of the chemical formula used in the first working battery:


Zn → Zn2+ + 2e

Sulfuric acid

2H+ + 2e → H2

In honour of his work, Napoleon Bonaparte bestowed the title of count on Volta.

Volta died on 5 March 1827.

Batteries image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years