Cell, Electrochemical (Encyclopedia of Science)
Electrochemical cells are devices for turning chemical energy into electrical energy or, alternatively, changing electrical energy into chemical energy. The first type of cell is known as a voltaic, or galvanic, cell, while the second type is an electrolytic cell. The voltaic cell with which you are probably most familiar is the battery. Batteries consist of one or more cells connected to each other. Electrolytic cells are less common in everyday life, although they are important in many industrial operations, as in the electroplating of metals.
Cells that obtain electrical energy from chemical reactions were discovered more than two centuries ago. Italian anatomist Luigi Galvani (1737798) first observed this effect in 1771. He noticed that the muscles of a dead frog twitched when the frog was being dissected. Galvani thought the twitching was the result of "animal electricity" that remained in the frog. Although his explanation was incorrect, credit for his observation of the effect is acknowledged in the name galvanic cell, which is sometimes used for devices of this kind.
The correct explanation for the twitching of dead frog muscles was provided by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (1745827) two decades later. Volta was able to prove that the twitching was caused by an electric current that was produced when two different metals...
(The entire section is 947 words.)
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