I don’t understand the physics here – it’s some combination of quantum mechanics and carbon nanostructures – but according to this news release from the University of Arizona, it can turn waste heat into electric power. So far the interesting properties have been simulated in a computer model, but not demonstrated in a physical device.
Turning Waste Heat Into Power
UA physicists have discovered a new way of harvesting waste heat and turning it into electrical power. Taking advantage of quantum effects, the technology holds great promise for making cars, power plants, factories and solar panels more efficient.
Follow the link for more. The underlying research is forthcoming in ACS Nano: Justin P. Bergfield, Michelle A. Solis and Charles A. Stafford, “Giant Thermoelectric Effect from Transmission Supernode.”