The Loh Down On Science

Can we power our cell phones with our bodies?

Rao / University of Texas

A microwindmill mounted on a penny

Forgot your cell phone charger again?  Don’t worry!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying:

A solution may be blowing in the wind!

Imagine your battery is running low.  You wave your phone in the air for a few minutes and voila!  100 percent charge.

Magic?  No, wind power.  Via windmills so small that ten of them fit on a grain of rice!  They're the invention of researchers at University of Texas at Arlington.  When tested, the durable, nickel-based windmills withstood strong artificial winds and generated power.  The hope is that these petite powerhouses may someday charge portable electronics.

The technology is still in the early stage, but a Taiwanese company is already exploring how to get the micro-windmills to market.  Researchers say the cost of making one is the same as making thousands, allowing for cheap mass production.  They envision placing hundreds on the sleeves of smart phones. 

Goody!  Then you’ll see us on the street madly waving our arms before we go back to taking embarrassing selfies.  It’s technical progress, at least!

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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