NanoMarkets provides market research and industry analysis of opportunities within advanced materials and emerging energy and electronics markets
March 27, 2014 Category: Emerging Electronics
The new generation of wearable and flexible gadgets such as smart watches, glasses, and fitness trackers, all require batteries that are flexible and small enough to fit into these devices. This could give a big boost to the prospects for thin film and printed batteries, but it’s not yet clear which companies will benefit most. Existing thin film (TF) battery suppliers may be able to leverage their expertise, but OEMs are pursuing wearable applications and developing their own batteries, posing a threat to the TF battery suppliers.
While multiple large and influential companies are pursuing TF battery technology, two in particular seem well-positioned and motivated to go after the wearable electronics sector: LG Chemical and Apple.
March 19, 2014 Category: Advanced Materials
Phosphors are critical to the future of LEDs because they address the quality of LED lighting in fundamental ways:
- Greater range of color – beyond combining blue LEDs with yellow phosphors to increase the quality of white light, there are opportunities for high-quality red phosphors to provide better color rendering.
- Improved efficacy and lower cost – existing phosphors have been able to provide LEDs with 100 percent greater increase in LED efficacy and a 50 to 200 percent decline in price, and new phosphor materials may be able to do even better.
These characteristics of phosphors can help expand markets where LEDs are already gaining market share, such as general illumination, and also markets where performance concerns or consumer perception has limited the penetration of LEDs. Phosphor firms have an opportunity to make money out of this situation not just because they are an important enabling technology for LEDs but because existing phosphors are not necessarily up to the task at hand. Some applications will require new phosphor materials with better performance
The outlook for flexible glass has changed dramatically since NanoMarkets last issued a report on flexible glass in December 2012. At the time of that report, flexible glass looked poised for commercial success in the display market – Corning had just seriously launched Willow Glass, other glass suppliers were producing ever thinner glass, and rumors were rampant about bendable or curved displays coming from major OEMs. These displays were supposedly going to feature flexible cover glass.
Flexible glass seemed to be a natural fit for the mobile display market, and NanoMarkets and many others assumed that the first significant revenues for flexible glass would come from the table and mobile phone manufacturers. It looked in 2012 as though 2013 would be the year when that prediction would come to fruition. Obviously, that did not happen, even though the selling points for flexible glass – lighter weight and potentially low cost compared to rigid glass – look on the surface to be exactly what the mobile communications and computing sector needs as smart phones get bigger and tablets become more prevalent.
The turnaround in the PV (photovoltaic) sector has been visible since the second half of 2013. And while 2013 was not a great year the solar industry, including BIPV (Building-Integrated Photovoltaics) in general and BIPV glass in particular is beginning to pick up. While many firms offering BIPV glass have gone under, the ones that emerged from the solar bust are still faced with the same problem; how to get their products into the mainstream construction market and not just prestige buildings.
NanoMarkets believes that in aggregate the opportunities for nanosensors are immense and need for small systems to double as analyzers and data storage entities will drive market growth. But participants in this market must remember that nanosensors are still a new technology, however, and, just as for sensors based on microtechnology, it will take some time for nanosensors to start earning significant revenues. Continuing progress in nanotechnology tools and increasing understanding of nanoscale phenomena, will be necessary to further enhance performance of existing nanosensors and allow researchers to develop nanosensors based on novel mechanisms.
Smart coatings on glass and other substrates have the potential to create added value in a huge range of applications, but this can only be realized if they can provide sufficient performance enhancement at the right price. In the energy industry, the key driver is the desire to improve energy efficiency, and this is especially true in the renewable energy sector. We expect to see increased demand for coatings for solar panels and wind turbines as photovoltaics (PV) and wind energy become more prevalent and improved efficiency and low maintenance costs become increasingly important.
Photochromic materials have been used for many years in self-dimming sunglasses, so it might seem natural for them to make the leap and start appearing in smart windows in automobiles and buildings. There are some very good reasons why this hasn’t happened so far, and why photochromic windows may not ever take an important share of the smart windows market.
NanoMarkets believes that quantum dots have developed to the point where they can be a useful tool in the constant struggle of television display makers to stand out in the marketplace. Although barely out of the R&D phase, quantum dots (QDs) do offer some compelling reasons for adoption in a market that sometimes seems to be very good at offering new technologies and not so good at making them succeed.
January 21, 2014 Category: Renewable Energy
The last couple of years have been quite interesting for third-generation photovoltaic PV technology. Significant advances have taken place not only with respect to lab-scale cell efficiencies, but also on the commercialization front. As a result, a number of commercial providers have the potential to supply DSC panels in the near future.
However, the financial difficulties faced by the PV industry in recent times have cast suspicion on the long-term viability of both large and small firms. Nevertheless, there is scope for further improvement in the efficiency of lab-scale DSCs that already are competitive with amorphous silicon (a-Si) cells (~15 percent).
The changing dynamics in the global PV industry have led DSC manufacturers to seek solace in more economically resilient off-grid applications. Building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) applications and low-light driven DSC solutions for consumer electronics are increasingly being seen as the largest potential markets for DSC. In fact, the first commercialized DSC products were flexible keyboards and portable battery chargers.
Until very recently, the addressable market for smart auto glass has never seemed to extend much beyond luxury vehicles or (in a few cases) car enthusiasts who buy aftermarket products. And the low performance of many smart auto glass products makes it quite difficult for many smart auto glass products to penetrate to any great degree even the small addressable markets.
This rather pessimistic appraisal of the here and now for smart auto glass seems to contrast with the high level of interest that NanoMarkets is seeing in smart auto glass at major glass makers, electronics firms, and car companies.