Trend: Nanotechnology in Thin Film Materials Markets
During the past 70 years, deposition of thick, thin and ultrathin films has spurred device miniaturization while contributing to the rapid growth of industry sectors, most notably, electronics. BCC Research reveals in its new report that with the development of technologies that allow for the fabrication of nanofilms, the era of nanoelectronics has arrived.
Thin films, which are films with a thickness below 5 microns, are used to produce a broad range of thin and ultrathin films by applying various production technologies. These technologies compose three main categories (physical, chemical and additive processes) and seven subcategories based on their characteristics and operating principles: evaporation, sputtering, ionic deposition, chemical vapor deposition, liquid-phase deposition, plating-type methods and printing.
The total market for thin film materials should reach almost $9.8 billion and $11.3 billion in 2016 and 2021, respectively, reflecting a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3%. Chemical processes (including chemical vapor deposition, liquid-phase deposition and plating-type deposition methods) are estimated to total $6.1 billion in 2016, accounting for 62.2% of the total global market. Sales of thin film materials for chemical processes are generated primarily by their utilization in electroplating, for manufacturing protective coatings for the mechanical/chemical sector and electronic devices.
Physical processes (including evaporation, sputtering and ionic deposition) should account for 36% in 2016, reaching total revenues of $3.5 billion. In recent years, additive processes (i.e., printing) have emerged as alternative low-cost methods for the fabrication of thin films. Additive processes are estimated to generate thin film material sales of $180 million in 2016, or 1.8% of the total market value.
On-going miniaturization in the semiconductor industry impacts other sectors, as seen in the continuous effort in the thin films market to create components and products that are smaller, thinner, and lighter. In addition, new developments in nanotechnology are impacting advances in materials and fabrication methods for producing very thin films smaller than 30 nanometers or those with a thickness measured in atoms.
Miniaturization trends in electronics, optoelectronics and other industry sectors (e.g., life sciences, energy, sensors and instrumentation) are driving market growth, as well. However, the need to produce devices that can target mass markets and compete on price is increasing the pressure to utilize lower-cost manufacturing processes. Consequently, the thin film industry is seeking printing methods to fabricate a new generation of miniature devices.
“In recent years, following advances in nanotechnology, printing inks based on nanomaterials (e.g., nanopowders, nanofibers, nanowires and nanotubes) have become available,” says BCC Research analyst Margareth Gagliardi. “These inks are suitable for manufacturing very thin films adopting technologies that, until a few years ago, were only used to manufacture thick film devices. As a result, the distinction between thin film processes and thick film processes has blurred. Thin film processes based on printing of nanomaterials are becoming increasingly popular, but they still represent a small share of the entire industry.”
Global Markets, Technologies and Materials for Thin and Ultrathin Films (SMC057C) analyzes the technologies, materials, and emerging applications relating to ultrathin films. Global market drivers and trends, with data from 2014, 2015, 2016, and projections of CAGRs through 2021 are provided.