Solar hot water with a jolt

With the aid of nanotech materials, scientists have engineered a new way to convert the sun’s heat into electricity that is roughly eight times more efficient than previously reported solar thermoelectric devices.

What’s more, the device could be added to existing solar water heaters, giving people a jolt of electricity to power their gadgets along with warm bath water, noted Gang Chen, an engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“We just changed the existing system a little bit,” he told me today. “Then we generate electricity and supply hot water.”