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Japanese boffins produce solar power paper

Lightweight, flexible sheets of cellulose nano-fibres

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Green tech boffins at Osaka University have developed new highly efficient solar panel “paper” technology made from wood pulp, and says it is lighter, more flexible and eco-friendly than traditional clunky solar energy collectors.

The solar paper can be less than one millimetre thick thanks to its basic components: transparent cellulose fibres just 15 nanometer thick produced from wood pulp and a thin film of silver wiring.

The material's energy conversion efficiency rate of three per cent matches that of solar panels that use glass as a substrate, but is well below the 10-20 per cent rate typical of the solar panels used on roofs.

Osaka university’s Laboratory of Cellulose Nanofiber Materials is looking to commercialise the design as an alternative to traditional solar panels within the next three years. The team claims the cellulose-based product can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner, although there's no explanation of what happens to the electrical wiring involved.

Japan’s second city has form in the solar power caper. As spotted by RocketNews24, electronics giant Sharp recently unveiled semi-transparent solar panels that could eventually replace regular glass windows in homes and offices.

Microcrystalline silicon cells are sandwiched between two glass-fibre panels to generate up to 95W of power, said Sharp.

For those Japanese speakers among you there is a neat outline of the Osaka University project here while Japanese green news site Finance Green Watch has a Google Translate-able piece. ®

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