A tiny windmill invented at the University of Texas at Arlington could end up charging future smartphones, according to researchers, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Engineering majors had been trying to figure out potential uses for a new metal alloy when graduate research associate Smitha Rao recalled her 3- year-old playing with a toy windmill.

The group decided that thousands of windmills — 1.8 mm in diameter — could be put together in a sleeve that would cover a smartphone. That sleeve, once waved through the air, could recharge a phone’s battery, according to the UTA research.

Each windmill is so small that a single grain of rice could hold 10 of them.

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