Micro-scale Windmills Developed
For some situations, bigger is better, and for others small is supreme. For generating power it depends on what it is you are trying to power, as large power grids require large sources, but small devices and buildings could make due with smaller power sources. Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have recently developed windmills that are only 1.8 mm wide, at their widest point.
To create the windmills the researchers had to blend origami with semiconductor manufacturing processes. This combination allows the initially two-dimension metal pieces to self-assemble into complex, three-dimensional, moveable structures. The researchers chose to make the windmills out of a nickel alloy, which is more durable than many other materials used to create other microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). With their aerodynamic design, the windmills were able to survive strong artificial winds without fracture, when tested.
For those of you wondering if we may see these devices any time soon, for powering our phones and potentially our homes, there is good news! The Taiwanese company Win MEMS Technology Co. has already taken interest in the technology and are looking into its commercialization potential, while UT Arlington still holds the intellectual properties.
Source: University of Texas at Arlington