Lab Rat: Tiny Generator Can Power Gadgets - InformationWeek
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11/23/2004
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Lab Rat: Tiny Generator Can Power Gadgets

The inimitable Lab Rat has learned that researchers have invented a tiny microengine that can power devices ten times longer than regular batteries.

Greetings! I'm the Lab Rat, the Personal Tech Pipeline's science rodent. I'll be chewing my way into research and development laboratories around the world, bringing you the inside story on what gadget researchers, scientists and other eggheads are secretly working on.

For example, The Rat has learned that Georgia Tech researchers have actually invented a tiny power generator small enough to power mobile devices, like smart phones.

The generator, called a microengine, is about the size of a dime (or a small piece of cheese) and lasts about 10 times longer than regular batteries.

The generator works by spinning a tiny magnet at 100,000 revolutions per minute over a mesh of coils built onto a chip, generating 1.1 watts of power.

The scientists hope to jack that up in future versions to as many as 50 watts -- strong enough to run a notebook PC.

Although researchers have been working on tiny generators for years, the Georgia Tech device is the first one His Rodenthood has ever seen powerful enough to juice a phone.

The inventors are doctoral candidate David Arnold, postdoctoral fellows Dr. Iulica Zana and Dr. Jin-Woo Park, and Professor Mark Allen, in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech and a team from MIT: Sauparna Das and Dr. Jeffrey Lang in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

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