The researchers behind the device say that hundreds of the tiny windmills could be placed on a sleeve which would cover a phone and generate electricity with minimal effort, placing it in front of an open window or waving it in the air.
Smitha Rao, one of the designers of the tiny windmills, says that the use of nickel alloy means the micro-windmills hold up well against artificial wind. That's not always the case with micro systems.
"The problem most MEMS [microelectromechanical systems] designers have is that materials are too brittle," Rao said. "With the nickel alloy, we don’t have that same issue. They’re very, very durable."
The other benefit, they're cheap to make, according to the university:
The micro-windmills can be made in an array using the batch processes. The fabrication cost of making one device is the same as making hundreds or thousands on a single wafer, which enables for mass production of very inexpensive systems.
And it's already caught the attention of one company, Taiwan-based WinMEMS Technologies, which has developed a partnership with the university to explore opportunities to commercialize the technology.
Still, the technology is only in its early stages.
"I think we’ve only scratched the surface on how these micro-windmills might be used," said Rao.
The application (powering a phone) seems goofy, but the idea has merit. Perhaps sheets of these could be attached to outdoor walls where solar panels won't work. They would have to be mounted where impact wouldn't be frequent. What happens when a bird knocks into these?
Unbelievabley dumb. And we waste network, server, powerplant, transmission and iGadget power to report this bunk.
The iGadget has a motion sensor internally -- it can be modified to generate power, just like the old self-winding watches. Or, or, or -- there are umpteen ways to generate power needed for a small device -- using the least efficient fluid-energy-coupling device -- a prop -- just shows the foolishenees we'll drown in.
This article is interesting, but like almost all on this site, it doesn't tell anything substantial. How much can this thing put out? I could see a lot of uses for these, if they were cheap, but unless they could be produce usable amounts of power by ganging them together, they are just a novelty. Even the linked article is short on facts. It's like reading Popular Science in the 60's. I am still waiting for that flying car, the reactor in the basement and a jet pack on every back.
Make them slightly bigger, and put them on EVs or in front of them, and voila!!!, real renewable energy, self-regenarating on the go. No need to stop to recharge. My original wind-mills on top of cars idea might still prove to be practical, even if I was joking about it originally. However, it might still be impractical for cars, since the generated power might not be enough to drive a car for an extended length of time.
Why wave a windmill jacketed phone about, or put it in the wind. Surely if you want eco-chagring, a portable Solar charger is the path of least resistance ? Or following the long established Wind Up Radio technology to provide some wind-up generated power. Or have something trickle charging a power-bank battery which you plug your phone into to revive it.
As with most wind powered solutions, if it don't blow.... you will have the same no power issue, but you either need to plug it in, or wave it around like a complete loon.
"According to Forbes, the iPhone 4 could fit 2,040 micro-windmills on its surface". This is true, but what happens when you pick the phone up? 1000 of them are crushed. No one speaks of protecting them. Put a cover full of holes over them, then you have dirt or dust that will eventually clog them. Oh, just rinse them off with water. There goes the phone. I really don't see this as a viable solution at all!