Is graphene a real opportunity or just hype?

January 31, 2014 // By Paul Buckley
Despite being a substance attracting a high level of excitement from researchers in a broad spectrum of the electronics industry, market intelligence analyst Yole Développement is only predicting that the graphene materials market will be worth $141 million in 2024.

Yole sees the market being driven mainly by transparent conductive electrodes and energy storage applications.

Novel properties including ultra-high electrical and thermal conductivities, wide-range optical transmittance and excellent mechanical strength and flexibility makes graphene a promising material for a whole host of electronics applications such as ultrafast transistors, touch screens, advanced batteries and supercapacitors, ultrafast lasers and photodetectors.

“Although today there is no graphene-based electronic application in mass production, several companies already offer commercially graphene materials. The graphene material market value in 2013 was about $11 million, represented principally by the demand for the R&D and prototyping,” explained Dr Milan Rosina who is Yole Développement's analyst for photovoltaic market & technologies.

In a report entitled 'Graphene materials for opto & electronic applications' Yole estimates the global annual market value for graphene materials in opto and electronic applications will reach $141 million in 2024, featuring a 2013-2019 CAGR of 18.5%. Yole expects market growth to accelerate after 2019, with a 2019-2024 CAGR of 35.7%. In 2024, the graphene material market will be represented mainly by the demand for transparent conductive electrodes and advanced batteries and supercapacitors.

Although many leading device manufacturers are evaluating the graphene's potential; most of them have internal R&D activities or are developing R&D partnerships with graphene material suppliers. But today’s graphene supply chain is widely dispersed and makes choosing the right supplier difficult. A large (and growing) number of start-up companies are looking to catch graphene market opportunities in their initial stage. Securing graphene IP appears to be crucial to a strong competitive position.

Yole anticipates strong vertical integration trends within the supply chain as the result of specific challenges in production and the handling of graphene materials such as CVD-made graphene sheets. The manufacturers of graphene nanoplatelets will also vertically integrate to gain a higher product value and better differentiation from competitors by offering application-specific materials, such as conductive inks and composite materials for graphene batteries