Global Markets, Technologies and Materials for Thin and Ultrathin Films -- Focus on Energy Markets

Feb 2012| SMC079A| BCC Publishing

Report Highlights

  • The global market for thin film materials increased from $6.9 billion in 2009, to $8.4 billion in 2010, and to $9.3 billion in 2011. BCC projects this market will reach $14.9 billion by 2016 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10%.
  • The third largest sector in terms of sales is energy. Thin film materials are primarily used in manufacturing solar cells.  Sales of these materials increased at a CAGR of 37.9% during the 2009 to 2011 period, and they are estimated to have generated global revenues of nearly $1.5 billion in 2011 (a 16% share).
  • The energy market is dominated by photovoltaic cells, which in 2011 are estimated to be worth nearly $1.4 billion.



BCC Research has followed the thick and thin film markets for more than 10 years, publishing various reports on materials, devices and technologies used to deposit these types of films.  During this period, the market has expanded steadily and new opportunities have developed for these films. 

With this study, BCC Research continues its commitment to monitoring the thin film market by providing an updated review of the most important advances in thin film technology.  In addition, BCC provides a detailed overview of the current market and an impartial analysis of prospects for future growth, with a focus on the raw materials used to produce thin films and nanofilms. 

Specifically, the major objectives of this study are:

  • Provide an update on the most advanced processes employed for the fabrication of thin and ultrathin films.
  • Provide an overview of the most common materials used for each thin film deposition process and identify new materials.
  • Highlight new technological developments in the fabrication of thin films, while outlining technical issues.
  • Review the several fields of application for thin film technologies and investigate emerging applications.
  • Estimate current worldwide markets for thin film materials, and forecast the growth for each market segment through 2016.
  • Identify important technology and market trends within each market segment.
  • Supply an updated review of current producers of thin film materials.
  • Determine trends in U.S. patents and worldwide patents issued during the most recent years.


The global market for thin film technologies (including equipment, materials and services) is currently valued at more than $50 billion and continues to grow.  On-going miniaturization in the semiconductor industry also impacts other sectors.  As a result, there is a continuous effort to create components and products that are smaller, thinner, lighter and also, for certain applications, flexible.  In addition, new developments in nanotechnology are also contributing to advances in materials and fabrication methods for producing very thin films, that is, those films below 30 nanometers or those with a thickness measured in atoms.  

There are various types of thin film materials (e.g., metals, alloys, oxides, non-oxides, metalorganics and metal salts).  These materials can be deposited by a variety of physical or chemical methods, and they find application in the fabrication process of numerous devices within several industrial sectors (including electronics, optoelectronics, mechanical/chemical, energy, optical coatings, life science and decorative coatings).

At the time of BCC’s last report (2004), the global market for thin film materials was valued at $7.1 billion and growing at a fairly rapid pace.  Since then, the industry has continued to evolve in important ways.  In addition, at the end of 2007, growth in the global economy began to slow dramatically along with many sectors in which these materials are used, leading to a steep drop in sales during the ensuing two years. 

The principal reason for doing this study is to present a current assessment of the thin film material industry from both technological and market viewpoints and to outline future trends and key developments. 

There is also a need to evaluate the current status and future trends of the thin film material industry from a global standpoint.  As use of these materials expands and new fields of application emerge, information on regional production, sales and type of suppliers becomes more valuable. 

An equally important reason for undertaking this study is to provide technical insights into thin film manufacturing by:

  • Offering a review of material types, their applications and deposition methods.
  • Providing an overview of the main global R&D activities, resulting in the issuance of patents, and related to thin film technology.
  • Illustrating the latest technological developments. 

This information can assist companies in identifying opportunities for process and productivity improvements, resulting in a positive impact on future market growth. 


This study will be of primary interest to all companies that

  • Manufacture, sell and distribute materials for producing thin films.
  • Fabricate thin film devices or coated products.
  • Offer coating services to the thin film industry.
  • Manufacture processing and characterization equipment (e.g., physical vapor deposition equipment, chemical vapor deposition equipment and analytical instruments) utilized by producers of thin films.
  • Provide technical and/or marketing services for the thin film industry.
  • Plan to enter the thin film industry as a supplier, manufacturer or end user.

This study applies to industry segments such as microelectronics, data storage media, advanced displays, mechanical/chemical, energy, optical coatings, life sciences and the general coating sector. 

The study is directed mainly toward executives, directors, operations managers, sales and marketing managers and strategic planners working within the above industries.  Universities and research facilities may also find this study to be a good source of technical information regarding thin film technology, materials and equipment, which can be used as a baseline for new or expanded R&D activities.  Librarians of technical information and research centers can also use this report to provide critical data to product managers, market analysts, researchers and other professionals who need detailed and updated analysis of the thin film industry.  


This study provides an updated review of thin film technologies, including materials and production processes, and it identifies current and emerging applications for these technologies.  

BCC Research determines the current market status for thin film materials, defines trends and presents forecasts of growth over the next five years.  The thin film material industry is also analyzed on a worldwide basis from the standpoint of both manufacturing and consumption.  In addition, technological issues, including the latest process developments and events, are discussed. 

More specifically, BCC’s market analysis is divided into six main parts.  In the first part, a historical review of thin film technology is provided, including an outline of recent events.  The report also supplies a description of current and emerging applications for thin and ultrathin films.

The second part of the study provides a technological review of thin film deposition processes, free-standing thin films and materials used to manufacture thin and ultrathin films.  Each of the three sections concludes with an analysis of the most important technological developments and improvements since 2009, including examples of significant patents recently issued or applied for.   This part of the study also offers a brief discussion of the most relevant technological trends related to the materials used for thin film deposition.

The third part of the report entails a global market analysis of materials for thin and ultrathin films.  Global revenues (sales data in millions of dollars) are presented by application, deposition technology, film thickness and region, with actual data referring to the years 2009 and 2010, and estimates for 2011. 

This section concludes with a presentation of market growth trends, based on industry growth, technological trends and regional trends.  Projected revenues are reported, with forecast compound annual growth rates (CAGR) for the period 2011 through 2016. 

Next, six optional sections are offered.  These sections provide a more focused discussion of the thin film materials market for the six main sectors in which thin films are typically applied (specifically: electronics, optoelectronics, mechanical/chemical, energy,  optical coatings and life sciences and others).  In these optional sections, additional details by sector on current market conditions and key trends and developments are provided, in addition to market growth projections for each sector.

In the next part of the study that covers global industry structure, the report offers a list of the leading manufacturers of thin film materials, together with a description of their products.  The analysis includes a description of the geographical distribution of these suppliers and an evaluation of thin film material production versus consumption, always from a geographical standpoint.  Detailed company profiles of the top industry players are also provided.

The final part of the report includes an extensive U.S. patent analysis, with a summary of patents related to thin film materials, deposition methods and applications issued in 2011.  Patent analysis is performed by region, country, assignee, patent category and deposition process.


To analyze the overall market and market segments, both primary and secondary research methodologies were used to obtain market data.

The technology section of this report is based on information derived from technical literature, related BCC reports, professional journals, the author’s field experience and online sources.

Global market analysis was performed by analyzing 372 producers of materials for making thin films, accounting for at least 95% of the global market.  Data for each company were obtained by thoroughly analyzing Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, Internet websites, annual reports, industry directories, industry magazines and catalogs, government sources and other public sources. 

Additional data were obtained from the direct contribution of primary sources, including company executives, managers, engineers and other technical personnel representing manufacturers, developers and users of thin film materials, process equipment and devices; representatives of academia and trade associations; and industry market analysts.  

Secondary sources of information include:

  • EDGAR – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • European Patent Office.
  • Company websites.
  • Company annual reports.
  • Thomas Register.
  • Moody’s Directory.
  • S & P Industry Survey.
  • Dun & Bradstreet Business Directory.
  • American Ceramic Society Publications.
  • Foreign Chamber of Commerce Directories.
  • Foreign Stock Exchange Listings.

In addition to utilizing the above primary and secondary sources, market growth trends and forecasts were compiled by gaining additional insights from relevant financial and market information, relevant BCC reports and the author’s own in-depth and comprehensive analysis of the collected information. 


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The information developed in this report is intended to be of a professional nature and is as reliable as possible at the time of publication.  This information does not constitute managerial, legal or accounting advice, nor should it be considered as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature.  The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or from its use.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Analyst Credentials

Margareth Gagliardi, Chief Research Analyst in Advanced Materials for BCC Research, has more than 30 years of experience in the field of advanced materials, specializing in ceramic formulations, materials processing, and new product development. After receiving her degrees in Chemical and Ceramic Engineering, she worked in both manufacturing and R&D holding senior management positions within U.S. and European firms producing electronic, mechanical, chemical, and structural components.

She is currently focusing on market intelligence and advanced technologies analysis for organizations and research institutions that operate within a range of high-tech industries.

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Table of Contents & Pricing

All reports provided in PDF format. For shared licensing options (5+ Users), please call a representative at (+1) 781-489-7301 or contact us at
. Title/Chapter NamePagesPrice Member Price
Full Report: Global Markets, Technologies and Materials for Thin and Ultrathin Films -- Focus on Energy Markets229 $2,685 Free
Chapter- 1: INTRODUCTION8Free
Chapter- 2: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY3$250Free
Chapter- 3: OVERVIEW8$94Free
Chapter- 5: GLOBAL MARKETS37$434Free
Chapter- 6: ENERGY15$176Free
Chapter- 8: U.S. PATENT ANALYSIS67$786Free
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