Yeah, this is asking for a lot, and it probably won't meet its goals, but it's not as crazy as it sounds. Take the example of thermoelectrics -- solid state devices that can turn a heat difference in to electricity or vice versa. Efficient thermoelectric devices could be super useful, either for efficient, light weight refrigerators that never break (since they have no moving parts) or for a way to turn any source of heat -- including waste heat from your car -- in to electricity. The reason you don't see them everywhere is because they're currently not efficient enough to be worth it.
I realize the following is gated, but access it if you can and see the first plot. (Coincidentally, the author was Chu's deputy and is an excellent researcher.)
Otherwise, see figure 3 here:
The effectiveness of a material for thermoelectric devices is captured in one parameter called ZT -- the figure of merit. For about three decades, bismuth telluride was the best know material, with a ZT of a bit under 1 -- corresponding to about 10% of the Carnot efficiency (the theoretical maximum efficiency). To be competitive with conventional refrigerators, ZT has to be about 3 or larger.
In the early 90s, the DOD decided they wanted better thermoelectrics, so they started throwing money at the problem. You can see the result in the linked figure. Within a decade, ZT for the best materials shot up to about 2.5 at room temperature and 3.5 at higher temperatures -- to the point where they're starting to be useful.
More work is still needed before you'll see these commercially, but this is an example where government spending is and will be paying dividends; these are devices that will be generally useful, but languished for decades before the government gave research a kick. Battery funding could produce similar results.