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Posted: April 9, 2009

ITO will continue to dominate the transparent conductor industry but opportunities for nanomaterials emerging

(Nanowerk News) Indium tin oxide (ITO), with all of its faults and inadequacies, will continue to dominate the transparent conductor industry for the foreseeable future, according to NanoMarkets, an industry analysis firm. The firm projects revenues from ITO to grow from $3.2 billion this year to $8.3 billion by 2014. These and other findings are from the firm's newest report titled, "Indium Tin Oxide and Alternative Transparent Conductor Markets."
Other findings:
Using ITO as a transparent conductor is often a reluctant choice given ITO's brittle nature, the difficulties in applying it to substrates, along with instability of indium pricing. As a result, there is an accelerating effort to deliver an alternative transparent conductor that can meet or beat the performance of ITO, but at lower costs and with more physical resilience.
However, NanoMarkets does not expect anything to challenge ITO's dominance much before 2015. Prices for indium are, at the time of the report's release, down almost 70% from previous highs making ITO much more of a bargain than it used to be. New developments in manufacturing with ITO -- such as the use of powder coating -- have improved efficiencies and reduced costs. Manufacturers of flat panel devices are showing no signs of moving away from ITO. Given that this sector is the largest application market for ITO there is nothing to suggest a run towards other non-ITO solutions.
NanoMarkets does believe that the transparent conductor business will still offer some significant opportunities however. Touch screen displays are already a sizeable market and flexible displays will soon arrive on the market. Both are areas where ITO use faces some of its biggest challenges. NanoMarkets also believes that OLED lighting and thin-film photovoltaics are two other technologies where engineers will continue to look for alternatives to ITO and that as a result the ITO alternative market will be worth $567 million in 2014.
NanoMarkets projects that nanomaterials will produce the biggest threat to ITO in the coming years and the space where companies should be looking to invest. Nanoengineered materials hold out the best prospects for a transparent conductor that can surpass ITO, not just in terms of transparency and conductivity but also in terms of price. By 2014 NanoMarkets projects that nanomaterials will provide $331 million in revenues when used as a substitute for ITO.
About the Report
NanoMarkets' new report provides an up-to-date analysis of how ITO and its alternatives are evolving in the marketplace. It is the follow-on report to our highly successful ITO study from last year and takes account of the latest developments in nanomaterials and conductive polymers, as well as new directions in ITO manufacturing. It also discusses the impact of the worldwide recession on the markets covered. The report covers classic ITO formulations as well as ITO inks and composites, along with other transparent conductive oxides, conductive polymers, carbon nanotubes and other kinds of nanomaterials. Applications covered include LCD and plasma displays, touch-screen displays, OLED displays and lighting, e-paper, EL lighting, photovoltaics and general purpose conductive coatings for antistatic and other applications.
This report also discusses strategic marketing issues and it includes eight-year forecasts of the various types of ITO materials and ITO alternatives. In addition, the report profiles the latest activities of leading companies and labs working in this field.
Source: IMEC