A team of electrical engineers at the University of Texas plans to take the world of wind turbines by storm (no pun intended). As clean wind energy has become more popular over the years, turbines have only become larger; Professor J.C. Chiao and graduate research associate Smitha Rao are bucking the trend with the development of micro-windmill technology.
The miniature turbines measure at 1/15 of an inch at its widest, and will generate a small electrical charge from ambient wind. The structures “blend origami concepts into conventional wafer-scale semiconductor device layouts so complex 3-D movable mechanical structures can be self-assembled from two-dimensional metal pieces, utilizing planar multilayer electroplating techniques.”
In practical terms, Chiao envisions a future in which the micro-windmills could be cheaply produced and used to power portable electronics. “When the phone is out of battery power, all you need to do is to put on the sleeve, wave the phone in the air for a few minutes and you can use the phone again.”
When that day comes, flailing about wildly in frustration over your dead phone might just be the solution after all.
[Images: winMEMS technologies]