Thanks to the increasing demand from existing and emerging applications, the global market for thin films is witnessing significant growth. The increased need efficacy in operations, high demand for miniaturization of products, continual advancements in technology, and the rising implementation of government rules and policies and subsidies across the world are fueling the demand for thin film materials across the world and are anticipated to continue the proliferation in this market over the next few years.
On the other hand, the low conversion efficacy and the need for a massive amount in investments to increase the research activities for the development of the technology may restrict this market from rising steadily in the years to come. Nonetheless, with extensive application of thin film materials in photovoltaic solar cells, electrical, semiconductor, MEMS, and optical coating, the market is anticipated to overcome these glitches easily in the near future.
The high growth of the solar photovoltaic cell and the MEMS industry is likely to present lucrative opportunities for growth to market players over the forthcoming years, especially in Asia Pacific and Europe. China is projected to emerge as the leading domestic market for thin films materials across the world in future.
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A thin film is a layer of material ranging from a nanometer to micrometers in thickness. Optical coatings and electronic semiconductors are the primary applications of thin film materials. Additionally, thin film materials are used in the manufacture of household mirrors. These films are widely used for high density and high frequency applications. They are used in photovoltaic solar cells, among others.
Increase in technological miniaturization is expected to be the prime driver of the thin materials market during the forecast period. Rising awareness regarding the usage of solar energy is also anticipated to boost the thin film material market during the forecast period. Industrial applications of thin film materials such as optical coatings and semiconductors coupled with domestic applications are estimated to drive the demand for thin film materials over the next few years.
Furthermore, companies manufacturing thin films rely on the government for funding and subsidies. Thus, government funding provided to thin film material industries may open up new avenues for the market. This is projected to propel the demand for these materials in the near future. However, volatility in the availability of raw materials may hamper the market over the next few years. Research is being carried out on a new class of thin-film inorganic oxide materials called amorphous heavy-metal cation multicomponent oxides. These could be used to manufacture transparent transistors that are inexpensive, stable, and environment-friendly.
Thin film materials are divided into amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, and copper indium gallium selenide. Technologies include chemical process and physical process. Thin film materials are used in various applications such as solar cells, micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS), semiconductor, and electrical and optical coating.
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In terms of demand, Asia Pacific was the leading region in the thin film materials market in 2013. China accounted for the largest demand for thin film materials in Asia Pacific owing to high demand in the coatings industry in 2013. However, other countries such as India, Japan, and South Korea are likely to exhibit higher demand for thin film materials in the near future. Rising population and changing lifestyles of consumers have been directly or indirectly driving the market. This trend is projected to continue in the next few years. Furthermore, growing awareness regarding exhaustible resources is expected to boost market growth. Asia Pacific has experienced dynamic economic growth in the past decade. This trend is anticipated to continue in the next fewyears. Asia Pacific was followed by North America.
The U.S. accounted for the largest demand for thin film materials in the past decade. Demand for thin film materials was high owing to increasing demand in various applications. Europe held the third largest share of the thin film materials market. Increasing demand for thin film materials in the automobile industry is driving the thin film materials market in Europe. Countries such as Germany and the U.K. were the major consumers of thin film materials in Europe. However, stringent environmental regulations associated with the Paints and coatings industry in the European Union can act as a major restraint for the market in the near future. The Rest of the World is anticipated to experience stable demand for thin film materials in the near future. Latin America is one of the largest markets for thin film materials in the Rest of the World.
The thin film materials market is highly competitive. It is an oligopolistic market, wherein a few players dominate the market. First Solar is the major player that holds monopoly in the Cadmium telluride CdTe) market. Other players include Hanergy Holding Group Limited, Kaneka Corporation, Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc., Anwell Solar, Suntech Power Co. Ltd., and Moser Baer India Limited.