TOKYO, March 18 (Kyodo) — Oji Holdings Corp. and Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. said Monday they have succeeded in making sheeted transparent paper by thoroughly thinning down plant-fiber material to enable the world's first mass production of such product.
The two companies will work to put the transparent paper, which can be folded like origami and is expected to be applicable for pocket-size electric newspapers and other devices, into practical use around 2016 or 2017.
The firms succeeded in producing the paper from "cellulose nanofiber" which was developed by thinning down the plant-fiber pulp for making regular paper to about one-20,000th of a strand of hair.
The transparent fiber had been too thin to make sheeted paper, but Oji Holdings and Mitsubishi Chemical have developed a new method of doing so by adding a chemical treatment during the processing.
Although the new material is as thin as one-50th of a millimeter, it is as strong as firefighting clothing and is resistant to heat, making it possible for it to be used for lighting and as displays for tablet devices.
Mitsubishi Chemical will study technology to show various colors on the new material, and the two companies plan to set up a joint venture for the project's full-fledged operations for the new product once preparations are set for mass production.