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News Link • Energy

World's smallest windmills to power cell phones

•, By Brian Dodson
 Professor J.C. Chiao and his postdoc Dr. Smitha Rao of the University of Texas at Arlington have taken this contrarian philosophy to the extreme. They have developed a MEMS-based nickel alloy windmill so small that 10 could be mounted on a single grain of rice. Aimed at very-small-scale energy harvesting applications, these windmills could recharge batteries for smartphones, and directly power ultra-low-power electronic devices.

The micro-windmills (technically called horizontal axis wind turbines) have a three-bladed rotor 1.8 mm in diameter mounted on a tower about 2 mm tall. The mount is a friction hub, but this probably becomes an air bearing when the rotor is spinning. The thickness of the windmills is about 100 microns.

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