Electronic Design

Thin-film electronics to become multi-billion dollar market

The future multi-billion dollar market for printed electronics is emerging via thin film electronics. Many companies and conferences use the terms organic or plastic electronics because over the last ten years huge developments have been made with organic-based devices, such as higher mobility and more stable materials and formulations allowing for printing organic semiconductors. Much of the debate has been about whether to focus on making inorganics printable or making organics work better. Some are finding it complementary to learn how to print a transparent inorganic semiconductor with up to 400 times the mobility, alongside trying to invent stable, low- cost organic semiconductors with device mobility exceeding 10 cm2/Vs. In 2007, IDTechEx predicts the amount spent on inorganic electronic components and inorganic materials for composite components will be $482.7 million. Much of this is in fairly mature markets—metal flake ink used for conductors in heated windscreens, membrane keyboards and circuit boards and disposable sensors for the 2.2 billion glucose sensor labels sold yearly. Electrophoretic, electroluminescent and electrochromic displays, as well as laminar batteries and thin film photovoltaics, will make an impact in 2007. Inorganic semiconductors are being developed but are currently sold as proof of concepts and prototypes only. By 2012, IDTechEx forecasts that inorganic semiconductors will be 30% of the thin-film semiconductor market versus 70% for organic semiconductors. Out of a total $48.18 billion market (which includes printed and thin film displays, logic, memory, photovoltaics, power and sensors), the amount spent on inorganic components as a whole or in composite with organics will be approximately $19.43 billion by 2017, IDTechEx predicts.

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