A battery is one or more cells that store chemical energy and convert it to electrical energy. Batteries produce an electric current using electrochemical reactions.
An electric battery is one or more electrochemical cells connected together to supply electrical power. The positive end of the battery is known as the cathode and the negative end is known as the anode. The word "battery" was first used to describe this phenomenon by American inventor Benjamin Franklin when describing the linking together of different capacitors.
The invention of the battery is largely credited to Italian inventor and scientist, Alessandro Volta. In 1791, Volta’s colleague Luigi Galvani noticed that frog legs move when touched with wires made of different types of metal. Galani shared his discovery with Volta. Volta believed it was caused by the two types of metal touching something wet. He used this this idea to create the voltaic pile. The pile was made of different metal discs with soaked rags in between them.
Earlier versions of batteries were known as Leyden jars. These were early forms of capacitors and could store charge. Unlike the voltaic pile, which could provide a steady current for a few hours, the Leyden jar discharged quickly. They revolutionized the way scientists could experiment with electricity. Humphry Davy was an early adopter of the technology and used it to decompose compounds into elements through a process known as electrolysis.
Over the years, batteries became smaller and more powerful. The first battery-powered watch was produced in 1957. Batteries also allowed for the invention of the cell phone because batteries are a portable power supply. In the early 2000s companies, like Tesla, started to experiment with creating large batteries that could be used to power vehicles or even entire houses.
Primary batteries are single use, disposable batteries. These batteries are made of materials that change irreversibly during discharge, meaning they can’t be recharged. Alkaline batteries used in flashlights and remote controls are primary batteries. Secondary batteries are rechargeable. This means they can be discharged and recharged multiple times. Examples of secondary batteries are lithium-ion batteries used in laptops or smartphones.
Batteries revolutionized the way we move around the world. People no longer need to be tethered to a power outlet to use devices. Music systems, computers, phones, and other electronics can now be brought with us wherever we go without the need to plug them in consistently.
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