Alessandro Volta produced the voltaic pile, a stack of discs of alternating metals, separated by cardboard that had been soaked in seawater brine.
The internet giant’s search page has a special design to toast Volta, who was born in 1745 in Como, northern Italy.
Volta had made the discovery by chance. He was said to be dissecting a frog with an anatomy professor when he noticed the animal’s legs unexpectedly twitching from an electrical discharge. His colleague thought the twitch was down to the animal but Volta’s theory was it had been caused by two different metals touching the frog’s body.
The design (published on February 18) is part of the Google Doodle series, which sees the search engine’s homepage temporarily changed to celebrate holidays, events, achievements and people.