NanoMarkets provides market research and industry analysis of opportunities within advanced materials and emerging energy and electronics markets
December 03, 2013 Category: Emerging Electronics
To date, the history of thin-film and printed batteries has not been an entirely happy one. Both RFIDs and medical/cosmetic patches have failed to live up to the “killer app” expectations of the thin battery sector. And there are now perhaps 40 percent fewer firms making thin batteries than there was when NanoMarkets started covering this sector.
In this environment, one might be forgiven for condemning thin batteries as a technology in search of an application. And even if one considers smart cards, the one area where thin batteries have achieved some traction, it is hard to think of the battery firms creating large amounts of value. A CEO of a thin battery firm seeking that IPO down the road doesn’t have much to hang his or her hat on.
But although still in the making, NanoMarkets points to wearable and flexible products as well as devices connected to the “Internet-of-Things” that potentially offer a large market for thin batteries going forward; big enough to make the whole thin battery opportunity much more worth pursuing than ever before.
If this proves to be the case, the disappointments around RFID, patches and the like can be forgotten. These new wearable and flexible and “IoT”-oriented products could well give the market for printed and thin-film batteries a new lease on life.
The reason for NanoMarkets being bullish on smart windows in this sense is primarily our belief that there are widespread consumer expectations that the real price of energy will continue to rise for years to come. This will promote the sales of products that promote energy savings; smart windows being one such product type. Buildings need smart windows to comply with LEED or zero-energy requirements. Automobiles adopt smart windows to keep interiors cool and cut down on the need for air-conditioning on sunny days, while letting as much light as possible through on gloomy ones.
We expect these novel market drivers for smart windows to combine with more traditional ones—especially the need to reduce glare in the summer while not obscuring visibility in the winter. But the new market drivers for smart windows based on energy prices, NanoMarkets believes, will help grow the smart windows business dramatically.
For smart windows to replace dumb ones, they are going to have to achieve improved price points. And the business models adopted by smart windows suppliers are going to have to recognize where the opportunities are and where they are not.
October 29, 2013 Category: Advanced Materials
In the past, medical ceramics were represented by ceramic and clay implants that remained inert in the host and acted as scaffolds or supports. Today, the scenario has changed remarkably due to the introduction of an entirely new generation of bioceramics. These implants are, amazingly, structurally and functionally compatible with living tissue in the human body and contribute to the development of new tissue. Over the past two decades, there has been tremendous improvement in the performance of these bioceramics, and technology advances have created a very huge market for ceramics in the medical sector.
October 29, 2013 Category: Advanced Materials
Because of their ability to offer customized benefits to suit the requirements of the end user, smart coatings are likely to demand a premium price in comparison to conventional coatings. Hence, it is important to ascertain the cost-benefit proposition so that the attractiveness of a particular type of smart coating for a target consumer segment can be gauged.
Some application areas, such as military and medical, are likely to adopt unique smart coatings with unmatched benefits despite their high prices, because these segments are typically more sensitive to quality than price. At the same time, some relatively new consumer segments, such as high-end consumer electronics, may adopt smart coatings because of their favorable scratch-resistance or visual enhancement features. Others, such as commercial building owners, are likely to be more interested in the temperature and privacy control features of smart coatings.
August 15, 2013 Category: Advanced Materials
On account of their versatile properties, polymers have gained respectable popularity in this field, resulting in their wide-scale use. A direct impact has been the improvement in technologies for the production of high-quality polymer resins on a large scale. In addition, major polymer producers are making investments in order to portray themselves as medical polymer manufacturers. This interest is driven by the market growth of this sector, which should continue to experience sustained profitability.
NanoMarkets believes that Quantum Dots (QDs) have good potential to be a dominant large display format technology in the near term, but will take some more time to find commercial applications in the small display segment. In addition, NanoMarkets believes that in the near to mid-term, the lighting industry is likely to witness a good number of commercial launches, particularly in the solid-state lighting (SSL) segment, in which QDs have the potential to replace LED phosphor-based lighting solutions.
Downstream suppliers of QD raw materials are likely to expand their manufacturing facilities in order to meet the growing demand for QDs from consumer electronics producers, particularly TV manufacturers, as well as research facilities and some SSL-based lighting solution providers.
August 14, 2013 Category: Advanced Materials
The past year has seen major changes in the world of transparent conductors (TCs). The uncertainties in the TC market are now—in the opinion of NanoMarkets—higher than they have been for many years. In summary, in the past year, we have seen three trends emerge that are currently reshaping the opportunities in the TC market.
The three trends that NanoMarkets sees as central to the potential for TCs as a business proposition are (1) the growing ubiquity of touch panels, (2) the tendency to eliminate TCs from the latest display technologies and (3) alternative TCs reaching some kind of tipping point in terms of acceptability. These trends have differing implications on the TC community.
NanoMarkets has provided coverage of the smart lighting sector since the sector’s earliest days. Our definition of smart lighting comprises adding intelligence – in the form of additional electronics – to enhance the capabilities of lighting systems in useful ways. Smart lighting, the way that NanoMarkets has discussed it, does not specify the light source and it could use CFL, LED or even incandescent lighting theoretically. However, almost all commercially viable smart lighting that is likely to be sold going forward is likely to use LEDs. So it is in LED-based smart lighting systems that the potential for chipmakers lies.
In an era of increasing environmental awareness, consumers and corporations are seeking ways to make their homes and offices more energy efficient. In the U.S., energy consumption in buildings represents one-third of all the energy used in the country and NanoMarkets believes that in other countries statistics of this kind would not be all that different from what we see in the U.S.
Windows are notoriously leaky in terms of energy. This represents an opportunity to produce more energy-efficient windows. Much of the technology being developed in this space relates to better insulated windows, but so-called smart windows (a.k.a. self-dimming windows) are also likely to be an important part of the mix and an important contributor to the revenue stream.