NanoMarkets provides market research and industry analysis of opportunities within advanced materials and emerging energy and electronics markets
Double glazing shipments worldwide are worth billions of dollars annually. But growth of this traditional business is slow (this is especially so given the woes of the construction industry) and one would never identify it as an opportunity per se; that is no one would suggest that “double glazing” as a business that people should jump into as a way of making big money. It has been at least 30 years since someone could seriously make such a claim. In one trade press article that NanoMarkets retrieved as part of the research for this report, the double glazing industry was portrayed as “boring,” which seems to NanoMarkets to be a fairly reasonable characterization of the glazing industry considered as a whole.
But in the past few years – perhaps as long as five years – there are signs that the double glazing business has started to become much less boring. What we are seeing – or at least beginning to see -- is this sector begin to clearly transcend the “double glazing” name or even the (more general) “insulated glazing” name. There seems to be a new business emerging that is more deserving of the name “advanced glazing systems,” a name that seems to capture the sense of novel technologies playing an important role.
What has happened here seems to us to be much more than a shift in industry semantics brought about by changing times and marketing approaches. Instead, we are talking a real shift in direction brought about by changing demand patterns and novel technologies. Such a change is surely deserving of a new name; so surely the “advanced glazing systems” epithet is a good one to use.
Although several firms tried to exploit similar opportunities without success in the not-so-distant past, NanoMarkets now believes that the time is right for PV encapsulation to lead to significant revenue generation for well-prepared companies. Today’s opportunities in PV encapsulation can be summarized as follows:
• Several novel encapsulation technologies, such as multilayer dyad films and high performance barrier films deposited using atomic layer deposition (ALD), are now emerging that can serve important sectors of the PV market.
These newer encapsulation technologies have implications for the rising-in-importance flexible PV (especially CIGS, OPV, and DSC) sector, especially for building-integrated PV (BIPV) and other applications. Encapsulation is a key enabling technology for BIPV, which is expected to be the fastest growing sector of the PV industry over the next decade and a diversification opportunity for encapsulation technology suppliers.
Today, the LCD market heavily dominates the optical coatings and films needs of the display industry. LCDs and their backlight units use diffuser films, polarizers and reflective polarizers, contrast enhancement and prismatic films, as well as antireflection, antiglare, and privacy films. But most display makers are now looking for the “next big thing” in displays. This next big thing could come in the form of 3D devices, OLEDs for mobile computing applications, and perhaps even OLED TVs in the near-term; e-paper has also grown in importance over the last few years.
Although most of the revenues from optical coatings and films used in the display industry for years to come will be generated by those used in LCDs, NanoMarkets believes that the opportunities in this space will be shaped by the emergence of the new kinds of displays outlined above. These new kinds of displays can be expected to create new kinds of optical films, and may create openings for new firms to establish a market presence and gain market share versus the competition.
July 26, 2012 Category: Advanced Materials
Although the early promise of organic thin-film transistors (OTFTs), or, more broadly, organic field effect transistors (OFETs), as well as organic or polymer-based memories has not been met, today there are signs that things may be turning around. In the last couple of years, there has been renewed interest in these devices, and NanoMarkets believes that the industry may be on the verge of a second renaissance.
This resurgence will be built upon improved material performance, the establishment of an integrated manufacturing and supply chain, and the emergence (finally) of a viable market for applications that will benefit from the low-cost, print- and solution-compatible capabilities of organic and polymeric materials.
July 19, 2012 Category:
NanoMarkets believes that, while the changes in the indium supply that we expect to see as the result of Chinese indium policy will benefit the firms manufacturing novel TCs, the effect could be temporary.
What the alternative TC business really needs to develop a sustainable business, however, are new applications where (1) the advantages of alternative TCs are fairly clearly understood and (2) market penetration by these materials is not as hard to achieve as in the conventional LCD market. There are now several applications where alternatives TCs now seem well positioned. And some of these have only just begun to appear.
July 17, 2012 Category: Advanced Materials
Faced with the fact that we may never know quite how ITO prices vary with the price of indium, manufacturers of alternative TCs have a number of options. They can, of course, continue to make unsubstantiated claims about the high prices of indium and how this makes the case for their alternative formulations. We have no doubt that this is what they will do to some extent and that these efforts will work to some extent. However, in NanoMarkets' thinking, this strategic approach seems likely to have limited impact in the long-run.
The technology gaps in the OLED industry have not gone unnoticed by the materials suppliers, which have been providing steady improvements in performance. Overall, most clearly needed by the OLED industry are materials used in the functional stack – emitters, hosts, transport and blocking materials, etc. – that enable higher efficiency and longer lifetimes at the right color points to achieve proper color gamut (in displays) or the right color rendering index (CRI) and color temperature (in lighting).
Obviously, US-based OLED materials pioneer Universal Display Corporation (UDC) and its materials partners are at an advantage here, at least with respect to phosphorescent technologies and the superior efficiency that they can provide, and with respect to customization and optimization of auxiliary materials to be used in conjunction with the phosphorescent materials.
However, a breakthrough by an outside firm based on non-phosphorescent (or at least not on iridium metal cores) could be quite lucrative to the inventing firm as well. Breakthroughs in any of a number of other materials could also translate into a significant opportunity.
The past year has brought big changes to the OLED market. The technology appears to have finally taken off, and the long-promised potential for OLEDs to make a real impact in the display markets is finally being realized, with Samsung’s Galaxy phones beating out OLED-free Apple iPhones for the first time in 2012. Samsung has said that it expects to sell 10 million of its latest Galaxy smartphones by the end of June, and most industry estimates, including ours, indicate that a total of over 200 million smart phones with active matrix (AM) OLED displays will be sold this year.
The PV market is undergoing dramatic change as the industry transitions from one of generous subsidies to one with dwindling subsidies, dramatically reduced prices, reduced margins, and anticipated massive consolidation. As the PV module market shifts towards a commodity business model with associated mergers, and many players are weeded out of the panel area, which dominates the overall solar industry, there are many in the industry looking for new business models with greater opportunities for high margin growth.
NanoMarkets believes that one of the areas of high growth for solar PV is in building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).This new wave of BIPV products represents an attractive opportunity for new encapsulation materials. The current materials for flexible modules are relatively expensive to manufacture compared to the glass used in rigid modules. However, for BIPV applications, where product lifetimes are 20-30 years, they represent a good value proposition for high-end applications today, and will have much wider appeal as costs come down. The larger opportunities will be in the newest generation of materials, which promise to reduce costs without reducing product lifetimes.
If AMOLEDs cannot be deployed for large-area applications, then, by definition, AMOLEDs cannot replace LCDs as a dominant display technology. Worse, if AMOLEDs are restricted to small mobile displays then economies of scale for both OLED material manufacture and the production of AMOLEDs themselves cannot kick in, again thwarting high hopes for AMOLED technology. NanoMarkets believes that the technology that will cut through this Gordian knot are backplanes that are based on metal oxide thin-film transistors (TFTs). Such TFTs will also be sold into the conventional LCD sector and will generate more revenues from LCD applications than for AMOLED applications. But in the AMOLED sector, they will be more essential and will prove a key enabling technology for AMOLEDs.