May 2011
  • May 18, 2011 Category: OLEDs

    The whole of Asia must be considered a major opportunity area for the OLED lighting business.  Most of the countries in Asia are experiencing high economic growth and their manufacturing sectors are—generally speaking—moving to increasing levels of technological sophistication, both in terms of the products they supply and the kinds of manufacturing technology they deploy:.  Each country, of course, has its own demographics, its own opportunities and different timeframes for realizing those opportunities, as well as particularities in terms of market needs and the regulations impacting the OLED lighting market.  Each country also has a different story with regard to the size and sophistication of its indigenous OLED manufacturing sector and how that sector is likely to evolve going forward.

  • May 10, 2011 Category: Renewable Energy

    The organic photovoltaics (OPV) business faces major challenges going forward, indeed, it is fair to say  that its entire survival is in question.   In researching this report we have come across  the view that  OPV  is  essentially doomed to—at best—become a  cottage industry providing niche solar products for  campers, the military and so on.   Such an industry, it is claimed, would never put out more than a few MW of solar products; that is in a PV industry that in total will soon produce panels with aggregate  performance measured in the tens of Gigawatts.  But we are struck by the fact that this view runs counter to what we continue to see in the industry, which is more investment, new companies and new products.

  • May 02, 2011 Category: Renewable Energy

    Although early proponents of dye-sensitized cells (DSC) dreamed of a future in which DSC would compete primarily on cost, it now seems that this future is unlikely to come about.  As far as we can tell, First Solar is today's cost leader in the PV space and the company's CdTe panels also perform better than DSC.  Since the end of the silicon shortage, crystalline-silicon PV costs have fallen considerably and may even eventually approach the inorganic thin films in terms of cost.   As a result, NanoMarkets believes, DSC now has a limited amount of time to prove itself as a low-cost PV technology with reasonable claims to performance.  As we discuss in depth below, in the past couple of years DSC firms have been showing performance that brings them close to a-Si PV.  But the prospects for radical cost reduction look less hopeful and the manufacturers of other PV technologies are encroaching on the sub-$1 per watt "territory" DSC once assumed that it and pure OPV would own.

April 2011
  • April 11, 2011 Category: Advanced Materials Renewable Energy

    The market for transparent conductors sold into the photovoltaics (PV) sector for electrodes is currently made up of transparent conducting oxides (TCOs), including indium tin oxide (ITO).  PV, however, is the first major high-performance application for transparent conductors to largely shake its dependence on ITO in favor of less-costly TCOs, mainly tin oxide- and zinc oxide-based materials.  This places the PV industry in the somewhat comfortable position of having relatively few cost incentives for making changes to the transparent conductors used; the status quo—TCOs—are already cheap.

  • April 05, 2011 Category: Advanced Materials

    NanoMarkets believes that the market for smart windows will grow substantially over the next eight years, becoming a billion-dollar market by 2015 and then more than doubling by 2018.  There are several driving factors for this growth, which are discussed in the main body of this report and outlined in this article.

March 2011
  • March 23, 2011 Category: Advanced Materials Renewable Energy

    The largest traditional opportunity for smart coatings firms in the PV space appears to be in the area of self-cleaning coatings. While the revenues from self-cleaning coatings sales into the PV market are tiny at the present time, we think they could reach $280 million by the end of the forecast period.  The reason why this counts as a “traditional” application is that it speaks directly to increasing conversion efficiencies; a clean panel is an efficient panel! With self-cleaning smart coatings, PV panels can avoid the dirt buildup that can cause competitive panels to drop in conversion efficiency and power output.

  • March 01, 2011 Category: Advanced Materials

    The business cases for ITO alternatives have historically focused on being an "antidote" for ITO's high cost, brittleness, and whatever else could be perceived as a negative aspect of ITO. And with indium prices volatile and reaching as high as $1,000 per kilogram, it seemed as though it would only be a matter of time before many—or even all—ITO users were beating down the doors to get the magic elixir.   About four years ago, for example, NanoMarkets researchers were told by a manufacturer of carbon nanotube films that within a few years as much as 50 percent of LCDs would use carbon nanotube films instead of ITO.

February 2011
  • February 01, 2011 Category: Advanced Materials Renewable Energy

    Despite the end of the silicon shortage and the economic problems that beset much of the developed world, and the construction industry in particular, the prospects for thin-film photovoltaics (TFPV) still look quite good.  The thin-film silicon sector is recovering from a bad couple of years as it has both adapted to the end of the silicon shortage and weeded out non-productive suppliers.  First Solar, which dominates the CdTe sector, seems to have survived the downturn quite nicely.  And the CIGS sector, while it has yet to keep its promise of high-efficiency with all the advantages of conventional solar panels, at least is still keeping that promise alive.  In addition, while the end of the silicon shortage may have got rid of one of the main reasons why TFPV experienced a boom in the first place, the fact that TFPV can offer flexible PV products for building-integrated PV (BIPV) applications is a new reason why TFPV might be chosen over conventional PV.

January 2011
  • January 10, 2011 Category: Advanced Materials

    There are some segments of the PV industry that are chomping at the bit for better encapsulation solutions; better either from the standpoint of performance or cost.  In order to make money in the encapsulation business it is important to understand where performance is needed.   NanoMarkets’ research indicates that the best markets for advanced encapsulation firms to concentrate on are thus CIGS PV and OPV.

  • January 04, 2011 Category: Advanced Materials

    Often described as a class of “miracle” advanced materials that will transform electronics and photovoltaics, the actual record of conductive polymers has been decidedly mixed.  For example, the expectations for polymer-based photovoltaics, or conductive polymers as a transparent conductive coating, have never been met.  And in the one area where organic electronics has taken off commercially—OLEDs—it is organic small molecule materials that have been widely used, not polymers.  To the extent that conductive polymers have been used in commercial applications, they have tended to be low-value applications; notably anti-statics.

    This underachievement of conductive polymers has not been widely recognized, especially by trade, business and popular science publications which go on reporting on these materials as if they were highly successful in the marketplace, or at least soon will be.  As we have noted, however, this does not seem to be the case.  But this is not to say that conductive polymers do not have a commercial future.  This future, NanoMarkets believes, will depend on the clear identification of specific high-value applications where the use of conductive polymers makes sense because of their unique properties; that is, all the advantages of plastics with conductivity too.  It also depends on the resolution of a handful of important technical problems that continue to beset the conductive polymer business.

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