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White paper transparent electronics


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White Paper on market opportunities within transparent electronics. Prepared from NanoMarkets recent report.

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White paper transparent electronics

  1. 1. A NanoMarkets White Paper Transparent Electronic Materials: An Emerging Market Opportunity Published January2012 © NanoMarkets, LCNanoMarkets, LCPO Box 3840Glen Allen, VA 23058Tel: 804-270-1718Web: NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  2. 2. www.nanomarkets.netTransparent Electronic Materials: An Emerging Market OpportunityThe information for this paper was sourced from the recent NanoMarkets report, TransparentElectronics Markets-2012 that was released in December of 2011. Page | 1As we enter 2012, NanoMarkets believes that three major industry sectors—displays, solarpanels and the windows industry—will soon require novel transparent electronics materials.These new materials sets will embrace conductors, semiconductors and dielectrics andNanoMarkets believes that all this will provide an important new opportunity for bothestablished specialty chemical firms and start-ups.In a recently released report, Transparent Electronics Markets-2012,NanoMarketsprojectedthat revenues from transparent electronic materials are expected to reach $325 million in 2015,going on to reach $1.1 billion in 2019 (See Exhibit I). In addition, some of the materialsdevelopment that NanoMarkets expects to be undertaken with transparent electronics in mindwill generate additional revenues outside of the transparent electronics sector. We are thinkinghere especially of oxide thin-film transistors (TFTs) for use in both OLED and LCD backplanes fordistinctly non-transparent displays. But some of the work on developing transparentconductors may have implications in the ITO replacement market as well.Three Crises: A Transparent SolutionIn the three industry sectors mention in the first paragraph of this paper management is copingwith strategic “crises” that have become only more serious in today’s slow growth economy. Ineach case, transparent materials may prove a key to dealing effectively with those issues.Crisis #1—Transparent displays and the end of the LCD revolution: Not only has the worldeconomic downturn hurt television and computer sales, but we are also in the last gasp of theliquid crystal display (LCD) revolution. All computer and mobile displays and almost alltelevisions are LCD now.So the display industry is looking for those “next big things” to keep its revenues growing. Andit is coming to realize that transparent displays (along with flexible displays, OLED displays ande-paper) may be one of those “things.”Transparent displays using relatively crude CRT and electroluminescent (EL) technology havebeen used for signage and heads-up displays (HUDs) for years, but Samsung and LG are now NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  3. 3. www.nanomarkets.netpromising to upgrade the technology for transparent digital signage in the near future. Inaddition, there is the promise of mass market transparent displays as part of a move towardsaugmented reality features on tablets and smart phones. This product trend has the backing ofboth Microsoft and Apple, which we think is reason enough that it should be taken seriously. Page | 2One of the next iterations of the iPhone and iPad are likely going to have a transparent displaythat enables you to receive additional information about the place you are standing in on atransparent screen, while looking at the place through the screen.Crisis #2—Windows, transparency and the construction bust:The windows industry, whosemain addressable market traditionally is the new construction market, is not a good place to bethese days! In some countries, construction growth is tepid; in others the worst is yet to come.Window manufacturers are therefore rethinking product/market strategies. Inevitably, theyneed to come up with new products that have (1) high value-added, which helps make up forlost revenues, and/or (2) a value proposition focused on energy efficiency; in the light of risingenergy prices and environmental concerns this is a likely to be an important selling factor.For the windows industry the use of transparent materials needs no explaining. It is implicit inthe whole idea of windows. But increasing value added means a whole new set of windowfunctionalities. Self-dimming windows have been available for some time and the windowsindustry is now looking at windows that are also displays (for unobtrusive large-screen TVs),windows that are also lighting, and windows that are also solar panels. There may be even morecomplex hybrids in the future. One could, for example, imagine a panel that was a window anda solar collector during the day and a light at night.Commercial developments like this imply the need for higher performance transparentelectronics materials capable of monolith integration of the functionalities mentioned aboveinto windows. Self-dimming windows, in particular, have not done well in the marketplace,mainly because they have never achieved the performance capable of attracting manycustomers. New transparent materials could expand the addressable market for theseinnovations in the window space.Crisis #3—Solar panels: After a spectacular 2010, the solar industry has slowed. NanoMarketsbelieves that the worst is yet to come in that we expect to see solar subsidies declinesignificantly as governments around the world reduce these subsidies as part of budget cuttingefforts. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  4. 4. www.nanomarkets.netThe result? The solar panel industry will be desperately seeking ways to improve its economics.One way that it might do this is through building-integrated PV (BIPV). BIPV is a product designstrategy that integrates PV panels with other building materials. By doing so, the shared cost ofthe substrate can significantly reduce the total cost compared with buying the roofing or sidingplus the PV panel separately. Page | 3Not all BIPV products are transparent, but BIPV glass in skylights, facades, curtain walls, andshade structures such as canopies already exist, although they are deployed mainly in high-visibility commercial buildings. In addition, what transparent BIPV mostly means today isstandard crystalline silicon solar panels glazed into larger modules with some areas left open toenable light to come through.As such, transparent BIPV today is not really a materials play. But we would expect it to bemuch more about materials going forward; with the ultimate goal being the development of PVabsorber layers that are inherentlytransparent. And while NanoMarkets does not believe thattransparent BIPV is the killer app that organic PV (OPV) has long sought, this is one niche wereOPV would appear to have an inherent competitive advantage.One final point on “transparent” PV absorber materials. While in the case of the other sectorsthat we have reviewed in this article, “transparent” really means transparent, in the PV sector itmeans something less than that. The point here is that no material can be both completelyabsorbent and transparent; so there is always a tradeoff. A general transparency target forcommercial BIPV glass is around 50 percent. This lets in most of the current thin-film PVmaterials, which, if made thin enough, can be at least considered translucent. In addition, sincenovel transparent materials for PV absorbers do not have to be that transparent, the bar islowered a little in terms of product development.Transparent Conductors for Transparent Electronics: A New Direction for the ITO AlternativesFirms?There is already considerable work being done on developing new transparent conductors, butmost of this is aimed at coming up with alternatives to the indium tin oxide (ITO) that is usedalmost ubiquitously in the display industry—and in some cases in the solar panel industry—as atransparent conductor. ITO is expensive, sometimes brittle but highly entrenched in the displayindustry as a top and bottom electrode material for LCDs. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  5. 5. www.nanomarkets.netVarious materials have been used or proposed as substitutes for ITO including other transparentconducting oxides, conductive polymers and a variety of nanomaterials; especially inks madewith silver nanowires and carbon nanotubes. The big issue faced by all the firms in this sector,however, is that the big LCD makers are reluctant to shift to an ITO alternative because of thelarge investment that they have made in ITO. Page | 4Given this, many of the manufacturers of ITO alternatives have found that the touch-screensensor market is easier to break into than the mainstream LCD market. Touch-screen sensorsmay be a good place to start, but they will never generate enough revenues for manufacturersof transparent conductors to build substantial businesses on. However, the rise of a vibranttransparent electronics business means that there is potentially a new sector wheretransparent conductors can be sold.And, what is more important in the context of this report is that transparent conductors are theone area of transparent electronics materials that arereadily available and maturetechnologically. And the firm to watch in this sector, we believe, is Cambrios. This is not somuch because of its nanosilver-based transparent conducting material, but because of the factthat it has so effectively managed its business development and supply chain strategies tobecome the first firm to get a high-performance transparent conducting nanomaterial into areal-world product; the touch-sensor for a smart phone, that is available on the market today.It is also worth mentioning that this sector is one in which not just start-ups, but much biggerfirms see opportunity. Thus Dow Chemical, Kodak, Linde, Saint-Gobain and Sumitomo have allalready staked a claim in the transparent conducting nanomaterials space.Transparent Semiconductors of the FutureThe emerging markets that we described at the beginning of this article are obviously going toneed more than just transparent conducting materials and as in any materials set, the materialsthat are central to creating value in future transparent material sets are the semiconductors.And it has not proved especially easy to find materials that can serve as semiconductors and atthe same time be transparent. NanoMarkets believes that there are three types of researchefforts that can lead—or are leading—to practical transparent semiconductors. These are (1)organic electronics, (2) efforts to develop electronics using nanomaterials or nanostructures ofsome kind and (3) metallic oxide semiconductors: NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  6. 6.  We note that as a practical matter most of the work in this field is focused on using (3); semiconductor materials based on metal oxides of various kinds. Although the semiconducting transparent oxide class of materials, as yet, lacks truly useful p-type semiconductors, functioning devices have been built using n-type oxide semiconductors. Indeed, there can be little doubt that the whole area of transparent electronics received Page | 5 a considerable boost in credibility in the early 2000s from a number of research devices (TFTs) that were built using (mostly) ZnO as a semiconductor.  Nanomaterials appear to offer considerable potential for creating transparent TFTs at some time in the future, but few researchers are focusing on this right now. But it should, perhaps, be mentioned that ZnO nanowires have been used in transparent conductor research devices from time to time.  Organic electronics is a research program that often makes use of transparent materials (PEDOT is a notable example), but it hasn’t focused on transparency as a goal, but rather on a complete electronics paradigm built around organic materials.The most promising TCO material in terms of performance out of the common ones that areproposed for transparent electronics appears to be indium oxide; it offers the highest electronmobility, for example. In addition, we should note that there have been some successes indeveloping transparent p-type semiconductors. A recent text on this topic described as“excellent” the transparency characteristics of AlCuO2, SrCu2O2:K, LaCuOS:Sr, CuInO2:Ca andCuScO2:Mg, among other materials. However, we note that in this case, “Excellent” is definedas greater than 70 percent.A Conclusion and a Few More Companies to WatchIn Exhibit II we set out how we see the transparent electronics space evolving and we note herethat the optically active materials that will be used in smart windows and solar panels will alsoevolve in sophistication and performance. In addition, while we have focused in this article onthe crucial conductors and semiconductors, there will be other materials needed to completethe transparent materials set. For example, the fabrication of transparent TFTs is going torequire settling on a gate dielectric material; this choice will significantly impact theperformance of the devices under consideration. And a number of materials have beenproposed or used for gate dielectric materials including SiO₂, Al₂0₃, HfO₂, ZrO₂, and Y₂O₃. NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  7. 7. www.nanomarkets.netAnd with the exception of the transparent conductor space, it is still too early to pick realwinners and losers in the transparent electronics materials space. Indeed, NanoMarketspredicts that we will soon begin to see some new firms begin to appear in this space tocapitalize on the opportunities that we have identified here. This is not to say that some of thebig boys won’t also play a significant role. For an overview of what NanoMarkets considers the Page | 6top firms to watch in the transparent electronics space see the somewhat speculative Exhibit III.The main criterion for being on this list is the likely level of influence that these firms will haveon the transparent electronic materials sector across a wide variety of applications; they arenot necessarily materials firms themselves.One large company to watch in this space is 3M, which has a broad patent portfolio coveringtransparent conducting oxides and is a recognized leader in this field. Another interestingcompany is Kurt J. Lesker, which has reported to us in the past that its materials group has beenable to identify 17 novel transparent conducting oxide that it believes have potential toeventually make a commercial impact.It is out of this kind of work that the new transparent materials set that we are predicting willbe forged.Exhibit I:Forecast of Selected Transparent Electronics Materials by Type ($ Million) 2012 2015 2019Oxide electronics materials for transparent displays 12.8 55.7 205.9Active materials for smart windows 15.0 42.8 121.3Absorber layer materials for transparent solar panels 77.2 226.6 784.7Transparent sensor materials 0.2 0.5 2.0 105.0 325.5 1,113.8TOTAL© NanoMarkets 2012 NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  8. 8. www.nanomarkets.netExhibit IIA Provisional Roadmap for Transparent Electronics Materials Current state of technology Next three years Future evolution Broad range of Page | 7 Growing rapidly in importance. commercial devices, Future unclear, alternativeOxide electronics Emphasis on OLED TFT especially if p-type paradigms may arise backplanes semiconductors can be developed Doesn’t really exist, but someTransparent organic work done in this area when The rise of transparent electronics may give a motivationelectronics OTFTs were being seriously for reviving this research program considered Nanomaterials would seem Nanomaterials and to have the largest potential nanostructures have been used Possible that a consistent to emerge as the to build transparent electronic effort to develop aTransparent underpinning for electronics devices in scattered transparentnanoelectronics that is both highly experiments. Nanomaterials are nanoelectronics could transparent and offers high also eating into the conductive develop. performance electronic transparent coating market capabilities© NanoMarkets 2012 NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259
  9. 9. www.nanomarkets.netExhibit IIINanoMarkets’ Top Seven Firms to Watch in Transparent Electronics Materials Influence on the market What to watch for in the future Prime mover in transparent Page | 8 electronics. Offering the first Will Samsung’s next-generation transparent electronics displays and other products. Has1. Samsung products take off and will the materials this company a history of trying out new uses become the industry standard? materials faster than other display firms Apple could be the first firm to provide a sophisticated consumer product with a transparent display in it. As Has patents for transparent such it could be a strong influencer on the type of displays to provide access to2. Apple materials used in transparent electronics products. As an augmented reality. Seems likely indication of what could happen, consider that Apple to add this to iPad and iPhone single-handedly turned Pro Cap touch-screen technology into a major industry. Saint-Gobain has not specifically identified transparent Major glass firm with influence in electronics as a target market, but seems to be creeping3. Saint-Gobain smart windows and transparent into this space and is well positioned for further growth conductors in the future. Not yet a supplier of materials to the transparent The first transparent conductive electronics business, but its materials could have some4. Cambrios nanomaterial firm to announce a interesting applications in transparent electronics and real-world customer. this may still be an easier sector to get into than the mainstream display sector Has extensive portfolio of In a position to be a major supplier of materials to a5. 3M transparent conductive oxides future transparent electronics sector. But would and films probably be a low-key one. As the leading display glass firm, likely to emerge as a key6. Corning Not specifically active yet supplier of substrates for transparent electronics. Could perhaps offer specialty glass for this sector Carrying out R&D work on a This work has considerable relevance to the future of7. Kurt J. Lesker number of novel transparent transparent electronics and may make Lesker a player in conducting oxide materials the future© NanoMarkets 2012For additional information about the NanoMarkets report, Transparent Electronics Markets-2012 please follow the hyperlink in the report title. You may also contact us at (804) 270-1718or NanoMarkets, LC | PO Box 3840 | Glen Allen, VA 23058 | TEL: 804-270-1718 | FAX: 804-360-7259