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These Tiny Windmills Work, and Ten Will Fit in a Grain of Rice #Manufacturing Monday #MEMs

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This conceptual design for tiny windmills is adorable and could potentially be very useful. Via Wired.

Imagine a world where your iPhone was out of juice and there wasn’t a Lightning cable for miles—wouldn’t it be great if you could just blow on your phone to bring it back to life?

Professor J.C. Chiao and Dr. Smitha Rao of the University of Texas at Arlington have developed a new windmill technology that could shake up the power industry and make emergency recharges possible. Unlike the industrial giants that sit in off-shore windfarms, these diminutive devices measure just 1.8 millimeters at their widest point and ten could fit on a grain of rice.

These windmills would be instantly recognizable to Van Gogh, but the itty-bitty blades are examples of a thoroughly modern class of of device called Microelectromechanical Systems, or MEMS. These micro machines are widely used in electronics manufacturing, an average smartphone contains at least half a dozen, but the brittle silicone assemblies are typically reserved for static applications. Advances in nickel-alloys add durability to the structures and open up a variety of applications, including assemblies with highly dynamic parts.

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