The Information Network has published a report entitled: “Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) and Replacement Markets: Insight for End Users and Material and Equipment Suppliers” points out that ITO commanded a market share of 97.6% in 2010 primarily because of Flat Panel and Touch-Screen Displays but will lose share to 79.4% in 2016 on a unit basis.
Research was initiated for replacement conducting films because of the high cost and potential shortage of indium metal. In recent years, indium prices have stabilized. Coupled with an eroding market for indium, fears of instability in the market have diminished. The high price of indium has been a catalyst for replacements, including conducting polymers, nanomaterials, and wires. Nevertheless, on a revenue basis, ITO will maintain a share of 96.0% in 2016 because of the high price of indium.
The report says that there is speculation that the Chinese government may establish strategic reserves of indium. In addition, Japan may also be stockpiling indium, increasing its imports by 94% in 2010.
“Revenues for ITO targets reached $6.99 billion in 2010, up 25.8% from 2009. The ITO target market will exhibit a CAGR of 26.4% between 2007 and 2016, reaching $26.78 billion in 2016,” said Dr. Castellano, president of The Information Network.
Flexibility is a key factor and all new successful replacements for ITO offer flexibility, bendability and other characteristics superior to ITO even though transparency and electrical conductivity are slightly worse. Flexible films are important characteristics in touch panels, bendable e-paper, and similar products.
Non-ITO transparent conductors will remain dominant in the thin film solar cell market segment throughout the forecast period. High-flying thin film photovoltaics CdTe and CIGS mainly use alternatives. CdTe uses fluorine-doped tin oxide and CIGS uses aluminum-doped zinc oxide. ITO is not expected to make any increase to its fairly low market share. The more flexible alternatives (including polymers and carbon nanotubes) will make inroads into this market toward the latter part of the forecast period.
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