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In April 2012, Austrian and Japanese researchers revealed a device with solar cells thinner than a single thread of spider silk that are flexible enough to be wrapped around a single human hair.

The ultra-thin solar cell device is about 1.9 micro-metres thick, a tenth the size of the thinnest solar cells currently available on the market.

The new invention comprises of electrodes on a plastic foil. Being super lightweight and elastic, the solar cell device can be sewn onto clothing turning it into a wearable solar panel to power electric devices.

The research was conducted jointly by researchers from Johannes Kepler University of Austria and University of Tokyo.

The researchers said it was possible to make the cells bigger and hoped to increase the rate at which the device converts sunlight into electricity and put it to practical use in around five years. The amount of power generated by solar cells increases with their size. However, since this solar cell device is soft and elastic, it is less prone to damage by bending even if the solar cell device is made much larger.