Nanotechnology for Photonics

Published - Mar 2005| Analyst - Andrew McWilliams| Code - NAN036A
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Report Highlights

  • The global market for nanophotonic devices is projected to rise at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 85.8% from $420.7 million in 2004 to $9.325 billion in 2009.
  • Nanophotonic light-emitting diodes, with flat panel and plasma display applications, accounted for more than three-quarters of the market in 2003. Near-field optics (18.7%) and nanocrystalline dye-sensitized solar cells (4.9%) accounted for the remainder.
  • Light-emitting diodes not only are the largest, but also the fastest-growing nanophotonic market segment, with a projected AAGR of more than 90% between 2004 and 2009.
  • Near field optics and nanophotonic integrated circuits are the only other device types that are projected to have market shares greater than 1% in 2009.


It appears inevitable that nanophotonics technologies will have a major impact on a number of sectors of the U.S. economy. However, various technical, marketing and other hurdles must be overcome before nanophotonics fulfills this promise.

Most analyses of the nanophotonics market focus on development of new nanophotonics technologies and applications, rather than quantifying their potential markets. These analyses have made valuable contributions to raising investors’ awareness of, and interest in nanophotonics.

However, these analyses, by themselves, do not provide sufficient information to guide corporate or individual investment decisions. This BCC report provides information on the commercial potential of various nanophotonics technologies to complement the growing body of technical information. Specific objectives include identifying segments of the nanophotonics market with the greatest commercial potential in the near to mid-term, projecting future demand in these segments, and evaluating the challenges that must be overcome for each segment to realize its potential to estimate the probability of successful commercialization.


The report includes the following major elements:

  • Definitions of nanophotonics terminology
  • Milestones in the development of nanophotonics
  • Current and potential nanophotonics applications
  • Applications and end users with the greatest commercial potential through 2009
  • Global nanophotonics market trends with forecasts through 2009
  • Factors that will influence the long-term development of nanophotonics market shares and industry structure.


Projecting the market for emerging technologies such as most nanophotonics devices, whose commercial potential has not yet been proven, is a challenging task, which may help to explain why most analysts so far have focused on technology assessments. This report uses a multi-phase approach to identify the nanophotonics applications and devices with the greatest commercial potential and quantifies the resulting market for these devices, as described below. All market figures are in constant 2004 dollars.

In the first phase of the analysis, we identified a "long list" of potential nanophotonics applications (including applications that are still under development) and mapped them against potential applications such as data storage, computing, sensing, etc.

In the second phase, we eliminated those nanophotonics applications and devices that appear to have little likelihood of making it into commercial production in the next 5 years, through a literature review and statements by industry sources. The result of phase two was a "short list" of devices with the greatest near-to-mid-term commercial potential.

The third phase focused on quantifying the potential broader market for each short-listed nanophotonics device and identifying the main prerequisites for commercial success. Various methodologies and data sources were used to develop the projections, including trend line projections, input-output analysis, and estimates of future demand from industry sources. Dozens of industry sources were consulted in the preparation of this report.


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 also the author of numerous other Communications Co. reports, including several nanotechnology-related market assessments, such as GB-290 Nanotechnology: A Realistic Market Assessment, GB-281 Nanocatalysts, and GB-310 Nanosensors.

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