Paper fibers as seen under a microscope using ultraviolet lightPaper is typically formed by using the moist fibers of cellulose pulp derived from wood. The end result when pressed together and dried is a sheet of white paper, or a range of different colors if you add some dye. However, if you want a transparent surface to scribble on or fold, you’d have to opt for a plastic alternative, but that looks set to change.Mitsubishi Chemical and Oji Holdings have been working together to create paper that is transparent, but formed from the same cellulose pulp used in the creation of regular paper. Impossible you say? Apparently not, as they’re claiming to have perfected the process.The key to transparent paper is the size of the cellulose fibers being used. Mitsubishi and Oji managed to create nanofibers that are just 1/20,000th the thickness of a human hair. When combined, they have all the properties of a piece of paper, but take the form of a transparent sheet.As it uses the same raw materials and processes as normal paper production, there’s nothing to stop it being mass produced in the same way. Everything depends on how easy it is to work with such thin fibers using existing paper manufacturing equipment.It’s going to be a while before transparent paper hits the market, though, as plans to commercialize it are targeting a 2016 or 2017 launch. After that, we’ll probably pay a hefty premium for it due to the novelty value alone, but it might be worth it for transparent origami. However, using both sides of the page for scribbles won’t really be an option.One further option these transparent paper sheets have: applications for electronic newspapers. Mitsubishi has hinted that it can alter the optical properties and create something akin to an E Ink display that’s capable of being updated, but remains foldable.