Alessandro Volta, Count (1745-1827). Italian physicist. His inventions included the electrophorus (1775) to generate static electricity; and he also discovered methane gas (1778). Luigi Galvani had discovered that contact between the muscle of a frog and two different metals produced electricity. In trying to prove that this effect could be obtained without animal tissue Volta produced his ‘pile’ of layers of metal plates, the first electric battery (1800). In 1801 he demonstrated this to Napoleon, who made him a count and senator of the kingdom of Lombardy. The electrical unit the volt is named after him.