The electronics industry is extremely dynamic as technologies, materials, and business models are continuously restructured to meet evolving consumer demand. The demand for miniaturized (i.e., smaller, lighter, and thinner electronics products), improved connectivity and computing power, faster data speeds, and most importantly, sustainability, is encouraging innovations in this industry.
Sustainability or durability is a major concern area in the electronics industry as products with a shorter shelf life are discarded by consumers, which in turn increases electronics waste. To tackle these issues, manufacturers are now focusing on developing advanced materials to improve the performance and life of electronic devices.
Advanced materials definition
Advanced materials refer to a new material or the modification of an existing material. These materials have superior features which can outperform traditional materials. The top advanced materials and technologies in the electronics industry identified by MarketsandMarkets research include G.fast chipset, quantum dots, flexible battery, graphene, silicon carbide (SiC), 3D IC & 2.5D IC packaging, carbon nanotubes, smart glass, and biochips.
In December 2014, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) approved a new digital subscriber line (DSL) high-speed broadband standard protocol (ITU-T Recommendation G.9701) called fast access to subscriber terminals (G.fast) for local loop networks that are less than 500 meters in length, with performance targets between upload and download data speed in the range of 150 Mb/s to 2 Gb/s. The data speed in G.fast depends largely on the length of local loops. The mandatory downstream/upstream asymmetry ratio in G.fast ranges from 90/10 to 50/50.
The G.fast chipset allows networking device manufacturers to build ultrafast broadband network products for twisted-pair copper cables. The low cost of G.fast technology over other ultrafast fixed broadband technology, such as FTTH and DOCSIS 3.1, is the main driving factor.
G.fast technology utilizes the existing twisted-pair copper cable infrastructure; this provides leverage for quick installation of G.fast technology for both Internet service providers and users. The theoretical data rate for G.fast-based fixed broadband is 1 Gbps. Unlike other fixed broadband technology, the upstream and downstream data rate in G.fast technology is flexible and could be defined by the users during installation. This feature of G.fast technology is expected to be a major growth factor for G.fast-based broadband among the small- and medium-scale industries.
Some of the key G.fast chipset providers are Broadcom Corporation (U.S.), Qualcomm, Inc. (U.S.), Sckipio Technologies SI Ltd. (Israel), and Metanoia Communications, Inc. (Taiwan).
New product launches is the key strategy adopted by market players to achieve growth in the G.fast chipset market. This strategy accounted for a share of about 66% of all growth strategies adopted by market players between 2014 and 2016. Market players have adopted this strategy due to the growing use of ultra-fast fixed broadband provided by Internet service providers to gain a competitive advantage as well as a high-growth opportunity in the European markets.
Quantum dots (QDs)
Quantum dots (QDs) are small particles of a semiconductor material that were discovered in 1980. They offer unique electronic properties of bulk semiconductors and discrete molecules; they can also produce different colors according to the size of a particle. QDs are expected to revolutionize TVs and electronics displays with low cost and high energy saving. They are incorporated in display films; they get energy from a light source and emit color palette of deep reds and bright greens.
Flexible battery is a battery that is compatible, flexible, and compact. It can be twisted or molded in any shape according to the requirement without any degradation in its quality and performance, to ensure superior functionality of the final product. It can retain its characteristics even when it is bent, twisted, or cut into parts.
Flexible batteries are lightweight, flexible, and durable, unlike traditional rigid and bulky batteries. These batteries are made up of different materials, sizes, and shapes depending on the application to deliver optimum efficiency. These are different from conventional batteries in terms of features, size, form factor, shape, and flexibility. Moreover, the availability of these batteries in various dimensions allows the product to weigh less and reduce space consumption. This is especially important given the growing trend of miniaturization and compact devices.
Graphene is a two-dimensional carbon allotrope that is 200 times stronger than steel, flexible, extremely thin, ultra-light, and an efficient heat and light conductor. It is prepared by various manufacturing processes with exfoliation and chemical vapor deposition (CVD) being the most preferred processes.
Though graphene is a new technology and has a small share in the global advanced materials market, its unique properties make graphene a useful substitute for incumbent materials in various industrial applications such as electronics, composites, energy storage, coatings, sensors, and catalysts among others.
Silicon carbide (SiC)
Silicon carbide (SiC) is an exceptionally hard material that is found under the earth’s crust. SiC is used as an abrasive material for various industrial applications due to its hardness. It can be manufactured synthetically by blending petroleum coke and sand/silica under high temperature and pressure conditions.
SiC has various applications; it is used as a structural material in composite armor, armor plates in bulletproof vest, electric circuit, solar inverter, and battery charger; it has been used on a large scale in the electronics and semiconductors sectors for the past few decades.
A three-dimensional integrated circuit (3D IC)
A three-dimensional integrated circuit (3D IC) is a package with multiple layers of silicon wafers stalked together, along with electronic components using through-silicon vias (TSVs), while a 2.5-dimensional integrated circuit (2.5D IC) is a package with an active electronic components (for example, a die or a chip) stacked on an interposer through conductive bumps or TSVs.
The organic electronics for the study have been defined as products which are made of different organic materials such as semiconductor materials, dielectric materials, substrate materials, and conductive materials. Organic electronics can also be termed as printed electronics, plastic electronics, polymer electronics, flexible electronics, thin film, or large-area electronics. It is a relatively new class of electronics with a huge market potential in four key application areas, namely displays; lighting; photovoltaic; and integrated smart systems.
Organic electronics is an emerging technology that quickly moves from laboratories and research organizations to industrial players. The growth of the organic electronics market is primarily triggered by the introduction of technologically advanced applications at low cost. Also, organic electronics reduce some limitations of the traditional microelectronic production.
Carbon nanotubes are minuscule allotropes of carbon having sizes to the scale of nanometers. The properties include physical, electrical, and thermal, which make them a superior material for some end-use applications. Carbon nanotubes (CNT) have a very high tensile strength, excellent electrical conductivity, and the ability to bear high working temperatures.
The CNTs application markets have made great breakthroughs and enabled nanotechnology to become one of the most sought-after technologies. This will increase the use of CNTs in emerging applications such as lithium batteries, chemical sensors, fibers & composites, electronics, medicine, aerospace, and defense. However, some challenges such as high cost of production and integration issues may act as a restraint for the market.
Smart glass, also known as dimmable glass, adjusts the light transmission properties dynamically or statically depending upon stimuli such as light, voltage, and heat. Such glass does not require electricity to maintain its state of opacity or color change. The growth for smart glass is expected to explode with the wide adoption of virtual/augmented reality and increasing preferences for wearable devices among the millennials and teens.
A biochip is an assembly of miniaturized test sites arranged on a solid substrate that permits many tests to be performed with increased efficiency and higher speed to achieve higher throughput. Biochips have major applications in the fields of genetic analysis, toxicology, protein analysis, biochemical research, diagnostics, and personalized medicine.
Where to learn more
For further detailed analysis on each of the products, kindly refer to the below links:
- Quantum Dot Market - Global Forecast to 2026
- Flexible Battery Market - Global Forecast to 2025
- Graphene Market - Global Forecast to 2025
- Silicon Carbide Market - Global Forecast to 2026
- Carbon Nanotubes Market - Global Forecast to 2026
- Smart Glass Market - Global Forecast to 2027
About the Author: Nirmal Chandran is a Senior Analyst at MarketsandMarkets.