Is graphene a real opportunity or just hype?

Is graphene a real opportunity or just hype?

Market news |
By eeNews Europe

Yole sees the market being driven mainly by transparent conductive electrodes and energy storage applications.

Novel properties including ultra-high electrical and thermal conductivities, wide-range optical transmittance and excellent mechanical strength and flexibility makes graphene a promising material for a whole host of electronics applications such as ultrafast transistors, touch screens, advanced batteries and supercapacitors, ultrafast lasers and photodetectors.

“Although today there is no graphene-based electronic application in mass production, several companies already offer commercially graphene materials. The graphene material market value in 2013 was about $11 million, represented principally by the demand for the R&D and prototyping,” explained Dr Milan Rosina who is Yole Développement’s analyst for photovoltaic market & technologies.

In a report entitled ‘Graphene materials for opto & electronic applications’ Yole estimates the global annual market value for graphene materials in opto and electronic applications will reach $141 million in 2024, featuring a 2013-2019 CAGR of 18.5%. Yole expects market growth to accelerate after 2019, with a 2019-2024 CAGR of 35.7%. In 2024, the graphene material market will be represented mainly by the demand for transparent conductive electrodes and advanced batteries and supercapacitors.

Although many leading device manufacturers are evaluating the graphene’s potential; most of them have internal R&D activities or are developing R&D partnerships with graphene material suppliers. But today’s graphene supply chain is widely dispersed and makes choosing the right supplier difficult. A large (and growing) number of start-up companies are looking to catch graphene market opportunities in their initial stage. Securing graphene IP appears to be crucial to a strong competitive position.

Yole anticipates strong vertical integration trends within the supply chain as the result of specific challenges in production and the handling of graphene materials such as CVD-made graphene sheets. The manufacturers of graphene nanoplatelets will also vertically integrate to gain a higher product value and better differentiation from competitors by offering application-specific materials, such as conductive inks and composite materials for graphene batteries and supercapacitors.

Yole points out that a  higher level of standardization will be key to graphene technology rising to future commercial challenges.  The lack of suitable graphene quality characterization tools provides opportunities for companies developing specialized tools.

The development and industrial production of new graphene applications require a reliable supply of graphene with consistently high quality.

The catalytic chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of graphene on metals, featuring the high potential for both scalability and high material quality, has the largest potential for mass production of graphene opto and electronic devices. Although the market potential of high-quality epitaxial graphene on SiC is limited by the dimensions and high costs of SiC wafers, it may be successfully applied to produce some high-end electronic applications. The nanoplatelets produced by different methods, such as liquid phase epitaxy or reduction of graphene oxide can be used to produce conductive inks for printed electronics and additive materials for energy storage devices, such as Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors.

The choice of the graphene production technique is of crucial importance to a device manufacturer because it influences not only the graphene size, quality and costs, but also the design of the production line for device manufacturing.

Yole points out that large volumes of graphene materials can already be produced at relatively low costs and it is also possible to produce the high-quality graphene but the market analyst maintains that the critical challenge which needs to be overcome will be how to satisfy both conditions simultaneously.

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