Transparent conductive films: the new opportunities

An image of a touch screen to present transparent conductive films applications

IDTechEx Research Director, Dr Khasha Ghaffarzadeh, has written a report on the transition from old transparent conductive films to the new applications of these materials.

Dr Khasha Ghaffarzadeh begins: “The market composition of transparent conductive films (TCF) and materials (TCM) has not dramatically shifted for some years. It is heavily reliant upon select markets such as flat consumer small/medium sized electronic touch screens. Indeed, the IDTechEx Research report Transparent Conductive Films and Materials 2018-2028: Forecasts, Technologies, Players puts this reliance around 85-90% today. The emergence of new applications has also been slower than many had predicted and hoped. This report finds that so-called ‘old’ applications still the vast majority of the market. This reliance must change. In fact, it is about to change: IDTechEx Research projects that ‘new’ applications will rise to represent around half of the market within the decade. This change will bring about new opportunities and a renewed sense of excitement to the market.”

The curse of the old

Ghaffarzadeh discusses the curse of the old applications of transparent conductive films, arguing: “The industry has struggled to significantly break free from the dominance of applications which we term as ‘old’. These applications include a variety of flat touch screens on LCDs, OLEDs and other display technologies across product categories such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, monitors/all-in-ones, etc.”

“The fortunes of the industry have remained tied to the consumer electronics industry. This has meant repeated boom-and-bust cycles and relentless price pressures. These challenges will continue so long as this dependence exist. For example, now that sales of Apple are forecast to fall the ripple effects will be help across the value chain.

Rejuvenation of transparent conductive films

Ghaffarzadeh added: “The market is changing character. This change, it is important to note, will not have come about overnight. New applications such as flexible displays and flexible organic devices have been in the marking for 12-15 years. Many ITO alternatives too have been in the commercial development phase for 15+ years. The transition henceforth will also not be revolutionary given the outsize weight and inertia of incumbent applications. The transition towards new applications will however be accelerated.”

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