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REPORT # 096 PUBLISHED April 09, 2009
Indium Tin Oxide and Alternative Transparent Conductor Markets
CATEGORIES :
  • Advanced Materials
  • SUMMARY
    Check the Related Report link on the right for new reports issued since this report was published
     
    Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) is the most widely used transparent conductor in the display industry and has also found important uses in photovoltaics, lighting and various kinds of optical and conductive coatings. However, the choice of ITO is not usually made comfortably. ITO is a relatively expensive material and it has mechanical limitations in certain applications. The reason why it is so popular is primarily because there are few other materials that have such an optimal combination of transparency and conductivity. As a result, there is an accelerating effort by both materials firms and research groups that can meet or beat the performance of ITO as a transparent conductor, but at lower costs and with more physical resilience than ITO can offer.
     
    During 2008, NanoMarkets published a report on the future of the ITO market, which was one of our best received reports to date. This report continues in this tradition and focuses on important new developments that have occurred over the past year.
     
    There have been significant changes in end user markets since NanoMarkets previous ITO report was published. The worries about the ITO market being hit by Indium priced at $10,000 per kilo have dispersed as commodity prices have fallen. The display industry into which so much ITO is sold is suffering as the result of the financial meltdown and two of the remaining growth sectors within displays - flexible displays and touch screen displays - just happen to be areas where ITO use faces some of its biggest challenges. Meanwhile, OLED lighting and thin-film photovoltaics, two other technologies that have seen considerable commercial progress in the past year, should be natural opportunities for ITO, but in many cases applications developers in these areas are actively looking for alternatives to ITO.
     
    With all this in mind, this report gives an up-to-date analysis of how the alternatives to "ITO classic" are succeeding in the marketplace. We survey the current role of other transparent conductive oxides, with special attention being given to zinc oxide a material that is rapidly rising to prominence for electronics applications. We also review the role that conductive polymers are and will have as an ITO replacement. And in this report we give much fuller account of the future role of nanomaterials and exotic composites as ITO substitutes. We believe that this is especially important because nano-engineered materials hold out the best prospects for a transparent conductor that can surpass ITO, not just in terms of its physical characteristics and price, but also in terms of transparency and conductivity.
     
    In examining these newer materials we pay special attention in this report to current and expected performance, taking into consideration the high level of development work going on in this field. We also analyze the impact for ITO and its substitutes in the latest thin-film manufacturing techniques, given special attention to low-thermal and solution processing approaches such as printing and sol-gel.

    This report also discusses strategic marketing issues and it includes both short and longer term forecasts of the various types of ITO materials and ITO alternatives. The report also profiles the latest activities of leading companies and labs working in this field. The study will be of vital interest to firms in the ITO industry itself, as well as firms with new or existing materials that can serve as ITO replacements. Indeed, any business that manufactures, uses or invests in transparent conductors will find much to interest them in this report.
  • TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Executive Summary

    E.1 Opportunity Analysis
    E.1.1 New Applications Challenges to ITO: Displays, Lighting, and PV
    E.1.2 Not Fade Away: Where ITO Will Stay Unchallenged
    E.1.3 Alternatives to ITO: TCOs, Polymers, and Nanomaterials
    E.1.4 "Saving" ITO: Materials and Manufacturing Developments
    E.2 Key Firms to Watch
    E.3 Summary of Market Forecasts

    Chapter One: Introduction

    1.1 Background to this Report
    1.1.1 What a Difference a Year Makes: ITO Strikes Back
    1.1.2 What Happens When Indium Prices Rise Again; For Surely They Will
    1.1.3 Transparent Conductors: Applications and Options
    1.2 Objective and Scope of this Report
    1.3 Methodology of this Report
    1.4 Plan of this Report

    Chapter Two: ITO and Its Alternatives

    2.1 Introduction
    2.2 ITO Classic
    2.2.1 Extraction and Pricing of Indium: 2009 and Beyond
    2.2.2 Indium and Reclamation of ITO
    2.2.3 The ITO Business: Major Players
    2.2.4 Other ITO Players
    2.2.5 Traditional Film Deposition Methods and Parameters
    2.3 Printed ITO, Sol-Gel, and Other Manufacturing Innovations
    2.3.1 Physical Methods of Particle Production
    2.3.2 Sol-Gel and Solution-Phase Precipitation of ITO
    2.3.3 ITO Inks
    2.3.4 Powder Coating of ITO
    2.4 The TCO Zoo
    2.4.1 ITO, Dopants, and Silver
    2.4.2 Zinc Oxide as TCO
    2.4.3 Tin Oxide as TCO
    2.5 PEDOT as an ITO Substitute
    2.5.1 Advantages and Applications of PEDOT as an ITO Alternative
    2.5.2 PEDOT, Printing, and ITO
    2.5.3 Disadvantages of PEDOT as an ITO Substitute
    2.6 Transparent Conductors and Carbon Nanotubes
    2.6.1 CNT Coatings as an ITO Alternative
    2.6.2 Research Directions and Likely Improvements in CNT Coatings
    2.6.3 Eikos
    2.6.4 Unidym
    2.6.5 Regroupement Québécois sur les Matériaux de Pointe (RQMP)
    2.6.6 Sony
    2.7 Other Nanomaterial Approaches to Transparent Conductors
    2.7.1 Cambrios
    2.7.2 University of Michigan
    2.7.3 Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences
    2.7.4 Sigma Technologies
    2.7.5 Saint-Gobain Recherche
    2.8 Key Points from this Chapter

    Chapter Three: Applications for ITO and Its Alternatives

    3.1 Introduction
    3.2 Conventional Flat-Panel Displays: Will ITO Ever Disappear?
    3.2.1 LCD Displays
    3.2.2 Plasma Displays
    3.2.3 OLED Displays
    3.3 Touch-Screen Displays
    3.3.1 ITO and Resistive Touch Screens
    3.3.2 ITO and Capacitive Touch Screens
    3.4 Flexible Displays
    3.4.1 ITO-Coated Plastic
    3.4.2 Flexible Alternatives to Plastic
    3.4.3 E-Paper and ITO Alternatives
    3.5 Photovoltaics and ITO
    3.5.1 Thin-Film Silicon PV and Transparent Conductors
    3.6 Lighting
    3.6.1 OLED Lighting and ITO
    3.6.2 EL Lighting
    3.7 Applications for ITO in Conductive and Optical Coatings
    3.8 Key Points in this Chapter

    Chapter Four: Market Forecasts

    4.1 Forecasting Methodology
    4.1.1 What We Have Forecasted and Why
    4.1.2 Expected Impact of the Financial Meltdown on ITO and Related Markets
    4.1.3 Alternative Scenarios
    4.2 Some Notes on Pricing
    4.2.1 ITO: Basic Products
    4.2.2 ITO-Coated Substrates and ITO Inks
    4.2.3 ITO Alternatives
    4.3 Forecasts of Basic ITO Sales by Geographical Region
    4.4 Forecasts by Application
    4.4.1 Rigid LCDs and Other FPD Displays
    4.4.2 Touch-Screen Displays
    4.4.3 Flexible Displays
    4.4.4 EL and OLED Lighting
    4.4.5 Photovoltaics Market
    4.4.6 Other Coatings
    4.5 Summary of Forecasts of ITO and ITO Alternatives
    Acronyms and Abbreviations Used In this Report
    About the Author

    List of Exhibits

    Exhibit E-1: Summary of Transparent Conductor Forecasts by Material Type ($ Millions)
    Exhibit E-2: Summary of Transparent Conductor Forecasts by Application ($ Millions)
    Exhibit 2-1: Indium: World Refinery Production, Reserves and Reserve Base (Metric Tons)
    Exhibit 2-2: Summary of Indium Suppliers
    Exhibit 2-3: Indium Price and Production Trends (Values in Metric Tons Unless Noted)
    Exhibit 2-4: Sumitomo Metal Mining ITO Products
    Exhibit 2-5: Council to Promote Commercialization of Zinc Oxide Film
    Exhibit 2-6: Advantages of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes for Use as Transparent Conductors
    Exhibit 2-7: Eikos Government Projects
    Exhibit 4-1: Prices of Raw ITO Products
    Exhibit 4-2: Prices of ITO-Coated Substrates and Ink-Related Materials
    Exhibit 4-3: ITO Basic Products Demand by Country (Metric Tons Except Where Noted)
    Exhibit 4-4: Forecast of Transparent Conductive Materials Requirements in Rigid LCD and Other FPD Displays: 2009-2016
    Exhibit 4-5: Forecast of Transparent Conductive Materials Use by Type in Rigid LCD and Other FPD Displays: 2009-2016
    Exhibit 4-6: Forecast of Transparent Conductive Materials Requirements in Touch-Screen Displays: 2009-2016
    Exhibit 4-7: Forecast of Transparent Conductive Materials Use by Type in Touch-Screen Displays: 2009-2016
    Exhibit 4-8: Forecast of Transparent Conductive Materials Requirements in Flexible Displays: 2009-2016
    Exhibit 4-9: Forecast of Transparent Conductive Materials Use by Type in Flexible Displays: 2009-2016
    Exhibit 4-10: Forecast of Transparent Conductive Materials Requirements in EL and OLED Lighting: 2009-2016
    Exhibit 4-11: Forecast of Transparent Conductive Materials Use by Type in EL Lighting: 2009-2016
    Exhibit 4-12: Forecast of Transparent Conductive Materials Use by Type in OLED Lighting: 2009-2016
    Exhibit 4-13: Forecast of Transparent Conductive Materials Requirements in Thin-Film Photovoltaics: 2009-2016
    Exhibit 4-14: Forecast of Transparent Conductive Materials Use by Type in Thin-Film Photovoltaics: 2009-2016
    Exhibit 4-15: Forecast of Transparent Conductive Materials Use by Type in High-Value Conductive Coatings: 2009-2016
    Exhibit 4-16: Summary of Transparent Conductor Forecasts by Material Type ($ Millions)
    Exhibit 4-17: Summary of Transparent Conductor Forecasts by Application ($ Millions)

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