MEMS electrical generator

Posted December 14, 2005

In walking through the back corridors of Building 13, I ran across a poster presenting a neat little project in MIT's Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems, a group which I must admit I hadn't even heard of before.

They made a tiny little MEMS electrical generator (PDF), along the same lines as normal magnet-and-coil generators, but with windings fabricated via circuit-etching techniques. The result is a generator capable of putting out a watt or so at 50% efficiency, but only a centimeter across. Excellent!

Turning this into a a practical device for, say, a hand-cranked cellphone power backup would need a little bit of mechanical-engineering wizardry, since their tests used very high-speed (100,000 rpm) rotors at very small gaps from the surface of the coils, but still it's a nice step along that development path.