In October 2010, two University of Manchester (U.K.) scientists, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novolselov, were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics for their research on graphene. Graphene is a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon whose strength, flexibility, and electrical conductivity have opened up new horizons for high-energy particle physics research and electronic, optical, and energy applications.
Potential electronics applications of graphene include ultra-small transistors, super-dense data storage, touch screens, and wearable electronics. In the energy field, potential applications include ultracapacitors to store and transit electrical power and highly efficient solar cells.
Some researchers argue that graphene’s greatest potential lies in its ability to conduct light as well as electricity. They believe that graphene can improve the efficiency of light emitting diodes (LEDs) and aid in the production of next-generation devices like flexible touch screens, photodetectors, and ultrafast lasers.
STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Graphene offers seemingly endless possibilities. However, intuition alone tells us that not all of these possibilities are likely to become reality. The goal of this report is to survey emerging graphene technologies and applications, identify those that are most likely to achieve significant commercial sales in the next 5 years to 10 years, and develop quantitative estimates of potential sales.
The report’s specific objectives support this broad goal. These objectives include identifying the graphene technologies and applications with the greatest commercial potential in the 2010 to 2020 time frame, identifying market drivers and evaluating obstacles to their successful commercialization, and projecting their future sales.
This report is intended especially for marketing executives, entrepreneurs, investors, venture capitalists, and other readers with a need to know where the emerging graphene market is headed over the next 5 years to 10 years. Although the report is organized around specific technologies, it is largely nontechnical in nature and coverage. That is, it is concerned less with theory and jargon than with what works, how much of the latter the market is likely to purchase, and at what price.
The report has not been written specifically for scientists and technologists. However, the report’s findings concerning the market for their work, including the availability of government and corporate research funding for different technologies and applications, should interest them as well.
SCOPE OF REPORT
The report addresses emerging global markets for graphene, including the applications listed below:
- Computing/data processing
- Data storage
- Solar cells
- Sensing and imaging
The study format includes the following major elements:
- Executive summary
- General properties of graphene
- Historical milestones in the development of graphene
- Emerging and developmental graphene technologies and applications that have the greatest commercial potential through 2020
- Detailed market estimates and projections for each application and material during the period 2010 to 2015
- General assessment of expected market trends in the longer term (2016 to 2020)
- Companies that are producing or developing commercial graphene applications Patent analysis
INFORMATION SOURCES AND METHODOLOGY
Projecting the market for emerging technologies, whose commercial potential has not yet been proven, is a challenging task. This is nowhere more true than the graphene field, which may help to explain why many analysts focus on supply-side technology assessments.
However, BCC’s objective in this report is to provide not just a technology assessment but also an initial commercial assessment of the potential commercial market for graphene. To accomplish this objective, BCC used a multiphase approach to identify the graphene applications with the greatest commercial potential and quantify the related markets
In the first phase of the analysis, BCC identified a long list of potential graphene applications, including those that are still under development. In the second phase, BCC eliminated those applications that appear to have little likelihood of making it into commercial use in the next 5 years to 10 years, through a literature review and interviews with industry sources. The result of phase two was a short list of graphene applications with the greatest commercial potential over the time period covered by this report.
The third phase focused on quantifying the potential market for each short-listed application and identifying the main prerequisites for commercial success. Phase three actually had two phases: 1) development of near to mid-term (2010 to 2015) projections and 2) development of longer-term (2016 to 2020) projections. The development of such long-term projections is a departure from the usual BCC report format, necessitated by the long time frame for commercialization of many of the technologies analyzed in this report. Obviously, the projections for the out-years beyond 2015 are more tentative than the projections for 2010 to 2015.
The specific assumptions and approach BCC used to develop the projections (both near/mid-term and long term) for each graphene application are documented in detail under the various applications addressed. This way, readers can see how the market estimates were developed and, if they so desire, test the impact on the final numbers of changing the underlying assumptions.
One of the approaches used by BCC deserves special mention here. Particularly in the case of graphene applications that are still under development, BCC used the sales performance of nongraphene applications that shares some of the same functions or shares other characteristics with the graphene application as a benchmark for assessing the latter’s sales potential.
Andrew McWilliams, the author of this report, is a partner in the Boston-based international technology and marketing consulting firm, 43rd Parallel, LLC. He is the author of a number of other BCC Research market opportunity reports on advanced materials technologies, including AVM067A Metamaterials: Technologies and Global Markets; AVM066B Superconductors: Technologies and Global Markets; AVM038C Advanced Structural Carbon Products: Fibers, Foams & Composites; NAN017F Nanostructured Materials: Electronic/Magnetic/ Optoelectronic; AVM050B Smart and Interactive Textiles; AVM015E High-performance Ceramic Coatings: Markets and Technologies; AVM025G Diamond, Diamond-Like, and CBN Films and Coating Products; NAN015E Advanced Ceramics and Nano Ceramic Powders; and NAN036A Nanotechnology for Photonics.
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The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal, or accounting advice; nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual, or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. The authors assume no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or its use.