J.-C. Chiao and Smitha Rao developed a small device that is just 1.8 mm at its widest point. It is calculated that 9 more of the same devices could be attached to a grain of rice. Wind could be created by waving the phone, or in the lazy way – by placing it at the window on a windy day.
The devices were tested in September, 2013 and operated successfully even under strong artificial winds.
“The problem most MEMS 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.”
According to UT Arlington, the cost for manufacturing one windmill is the same as the cost of producing hundreds or even thousands on a single wafer.