Japan researchers invent solar-cell fabric

Clothes that could literally light up your life were unveiled Tuesday by Japanese researchers who said their solar-cell fabric would eventually let wearers harvest energy on the go.

This handout picture, released from Kyoto-based high-tech company Sphelar Power on December 11, 2012 shows small bead-like spherical solar cells, called Sphelar cells, woven into a fabric. Japanese researchers have created a solar-cell fabric that could eventually see people charge electronic devices with a curtain or even the sweater they're wearing. ©AFP PHOTO / SPHELAR POWER

The new fabric is made of wafer-thin solar cells woven together that could see people powering up their mobile phones and other electronics with their sweater or trousers.

But its creators conceded there was work to do before taking the fabric to market.

"We still have things to solve before commercialisation, such as coating for the conductive wires and improving the fabric's durability," said an official at the Industrial Technology Center in central Japan's Fukui Prefecture.

"But we've already been contacted by electronics makers, blind makers and others who showed interested in our invention."

The centre developed the fabric with a Kyoto-based solar cell maker and other private firms, the official said.

Solar power generation is attracting renewed attention in Japan as the country looks to alternative energy sources in the aftermath of last year's tsunami-sparked atomic crisis, the worst nuclear accident in a generation.

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