Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hair-Size Windmill To Power Portable Electronics

Researchers Smitha Rao and JC Chiao, from University ofTexas at Arlington, U.S.A., have come out with a bold idea of using micro-windmills to power portable electronics.

The new micro-windmills only measure about 1.8 mm at their widest point. A single grain of rice could hold about 10 of them. Hence, hundreds of them could be embedded in a cell phone sleeve for recharging purposes.

The micro-wind turbines include gears, inductors, pop-up switches and grippers. All of those parts are as tiny as a fraction of the diameter of a human hair. The windmills will be turned simply by the force of the air while moving around or set the phone in a windy place to get the tiny propeller blades turning to generate electricity.

The work attracted the attention of Taiwanese electro-mechanical fabrication company WinMEMSTechnologies, which has the researchers brainstorming on designs. The micro-windmills are apparently relatively easy to create — the fabrication cost of making 1 device is the same as making hundreds or thousands on a single wafer, which enables for mass production of very inexpensive systems.

Thousands of the micro-windmills also can be installed on the walls of houses or building to harvest energy for lighting, security or environmental sensing and wireless communication.

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