In its latest report on graphene, market research firm IDTechEx separates hype from reality using its detailed knowledge base. The company forecasts a $100 million market for graphene in 2018.
According to the market research firm, graphene is reaching the peak of its hype cycle: there has been the launch of prototypes and the first-generation of products; we have witnessed a mushrooming of start-up formations; and the industry has seen a flurry of seed and early-stage funding. The IP patenting activity has also been on the rise too.
Here, the focus is fast shifting from covering the manufacturing techniques towards protecting the formulation and the end uses of graphene. In the background, there has been an intense press full of praise and optimism.
Interestingly, IDTechEx also finds many emerging indications that this fledging industry is moving past the peak: several companies are already within the second or third round of financing; the second generation of products are being launched with more realistic assessment of the near- to medium-term market opportunity.
Figure 1: The hype cycle of graphene. Graphene is hyped but it is moving past the peak of inflated expectations. Source: IDTechEx
There are many different types of graphene, each offering a different set of properties. The differentiating parameters include the number of layers, purity, oxygen content, crystallinity and form (powder or sheet). Depending on the specifics of these parameters, the quality of the so-called graphene can vary, from that of the ideal material towards that of graphite oxide. Indeed, most companies today produce different types of graphene that can be placed somewhere on a quasi-empirical chart (see figure 2) in which the limiting cases are graphite, graphite oxide, graphene oxide and graphene. The take home message here is that each graphene will have different material properties therefore different target markets.
Figure 2: There many different graphene types and they can be categorised between the limiting cases of graphene