A new method for power generation based on nano-engineered interface design with partially filled gap is proposed. The device combines electron thermionic emission and tunneling to enhance electron transport. Thermal radiation and tunneling contribute to heat transfer in the device, which can be minimized using selected materials. The largely reduced heat transfer coupled with use of multi-layer structures enable a substantial temperature difference between heat source and heat sink or two electrodes, thereby maximizing heat source utilization. Detailed analyses are provided for the solid device operating either as a power generator or as a cooler.

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