In everything from computer processor chips to car engines to electric powerplants, the need to get rid of excess heat creates a major source of inefficiency. But new research points the way to a technology that might make it possible to harvest much of that wasted heat and turn it into usable electricity.

In the meantime, he says the technology now being developed by his company, which he expects to have on the market next year, could produce a tenfold improvement in throughput power over existing photovoltaic devices.