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Thin-Film Batteries Roll Into Emerging Applications

According to a recent report from NanoMarkets, “Thin Film and Printed Battery Markets”, the value of the thin-film and printed battery market will reach $5.6 billion by 2015. According to the report, thin-film and printed batteries—with their customizable shapes, flexible form factors and ultra-low weights—are enabling expanded functionality for a broad range of electronic products. These include RFID devices, smart cards and sensors. In terms of market potential, the report from NanoMarkets projects that the thin-film- and printed-battery markets will be driven primarily by RFID applications, which by 2015 will generate $4.6 billion revenues. These will be followed by smart-card applications, which will generate $346 million in revenues, and sensor applications, which will create $434 million in revenues.

According to NanoMarkets, this technology segment is one where volume is the driving factor, both for manufacturability and sales prospects. This is because the target applications of RFID tags, sensors, smart cards and medical devices are also high volume and cost sensitive, and the ability for manufacturers to add power sources at low cost is crucial. However, thin film and printable batteries can be delivered at attractive price points for these applications when produced in significant quantities and with the right processes.

Relating to this aspect, the NanoMarkets study further predicts that printing will have a growing role in the next generation of smart batteries, resulting in the growth in demand for zinc-manganese-dioxide or carbon-zinc inks. The study also predicts that there will be a growing number of alternatives for the dominant lithium-phosphorus-oxynitride electrolytes, with improved conductivity and thermal properties. While thin-film batteries using conventional lithium-based materials will remain the dominant factor, non-lithium battery revenues will grow to $2.5 billion by 2015.

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