See Inside September 2009


Their inventor may not have known how they actually work

A battery’s power comes from the tendency of electric charge to migrate between different substances. It is the power that Italian scientist Alessandro Volta sought to tap into when he built the first battery at the end of 1799.

Although different designs exist, the basic structure has remained the same ever since. Every battery has two electrodes. One, the anode, wants to give electrons (which carry a negative electric charge) to the other, the cathode. Connect the two through a circuit, and electrons will flow and carry out work—say, lighting a bulb or brushing your teeth.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content

It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Blow-Out Sale

Enter code:
at checkout

Get 20% off now! >


Email this Article