Portable solar chargers aren't so out of the ordinary anymore, but minuscule windmills that can charge your phones? Now, those are something new. A couple of UT Arlington researchers, Smitha Rao and J.C. Chiao, have developed wind turbines so small (they measure 1.8mm at their widest), you can stick 10 of them on a grain of rice. One possible application is to embed a bunch of the Lilliputian devices onto a phone sleeve -- you can then simply hold your phone out the window or place it in front of a fan to recharge. Since the tiny windmills are made of durable nickel alloy, you won't have to worry about strong wings blowing their little blades off, either. Although it's still too early to say if this leads to an actual product, a Taiwanese company is already exploring commercial opportunities, so cross your fingers if you dream of owning a wind farm for ants.

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Researchers develop tiny windmills that can power your gadgets (video)