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BCC Research Releases Report on Global Thin-Film Sensor Industry

Thin-film sensors are a segment of the thin-film industry that has been characterized by very steady growth during the past 30 years, driven by miniaturization trends within the electronics industry, the availability of advanced processes and the evolution of nanotechnology.

Although BCC Research has published many reports related to sensors, thin-film materials, thin-film technologies and various thin-film devices, this study is the first to cover the thin-film sensor industry segment. In this new study, BCC Research provides a current and detailed assessment of the thin-film sensor market, including an objective analysis of industry and technological trends and prospects for future growth. In addition, an updated review of the most important advances in thin-film sensor technology and fabrication methods is offered, with a focus on those technologies that will contribute to market growth during the next five years.

Specifically, the major objectives of this study are to:

  • Provide an updated review of thin-film sensors, with details on materials, most popular devices, sensor construction and fabrication technologies.
  • Highlight new technological developments during the past three years, while outlining current technical issues.
  • Review existing fields of application for thin-film sensors and examine emerging applications.
  • Estimate current global markets for thin-film sensors by type, application and region, with growth forecasts through 2018 for each market segment.
  • Identify important technology and industry trends within each market segment.
  • Offer an updated review of current industry players, including manufacturers of thin-film devices, materials and fabrication equipment, technology developers, and future market participants.
  • Provide a description of the most relevant research and development activities.
  • Determine trends in recently issued U.S. and international patents.


Thin-film sensors are defined as sensors that comprise one or more layers thinner than 5 microns, manufactured with various technologies that involve vacuum, nonvacuum or printing processes.
The global sensor market is estimated to be valued at nearly $83 billion in 2013. Thin-film sensors represent a relatively small share of this vast market (less than 3%) but, in absolute terms, they are a significant industry segment with 2013 revenues approaching $2 billion. With respect to units sold, the thin-film sensor market has experienced steady growth during the past few decades; however, unit prices have been decreasing fairly rapidly for certain categories of devices in recent years.

The increased market penetration of these devices is attributed to various factors, including, for example, a rising demand for biological sensors to test blood glucose levels for a rapidly growing population of diabetics.

The principal objective of this report is to present a current assessment of the thin-film sensor industry from both a technological and market point of view and to outline future trends and key developments.

There is also a need to evaluate the current status and future trends of this market from a global standpoint. As the use of these products expands and new fields of application emerge, information on the suppliers and developers of thin-film sensing devices and their regional distribution becomes more valuable.

An equally important reason for undertaking this report is to provide technical insights into the manufacturing of thin-film sensors by:

  • Providing a review of materials, applications and production methods.
  • Identifying current technical trends.
  • Providing an overview of the main global research and development (R&D) activities related to thin-film sensors, resulting in the issuance of patents.
  • Illustrating the latest technological developments.

This information can assist companies in identifying opportunities for process and productivity improvements and new product development, resulting in a positive impact on future market growth.


This study will be of primary interest to all organizations that:

  • Manufacture, sell and distribute thin-film sensors and other thin-film and flexible devices.
  • Supply raw materials for the production of thin-film sensors.
  • Manufacture process equipment utilized by producers of thin-film sensors.
  • Fabricate products that utilize thin-film sensors (such as process equipment, heating and air conditioning systems, medical devices, circuit devices, portable electronic devices, wearable electronic products, and test instruments).
  • Provide technical and/or marketing services in conjunction with the above mentioned products.
  • Are planning to enter the thin-film sensor industry as a supplier, manufacturer or end user.

Overall, this report applies to industry segments such as industrial, medical, biological and general wellness, electronics, automotive and aerospace, and instrumentation.

The report is mainly directed toward executives, directors, operations managers, sales and marketing managers and strategic planners working within the above industries. Universities and research facilities may also find this report to be a good source of technical information regarding thin-film sensor technology and applications, which can be used as a baseline for new or expanded R&D activities. Librarians of technical information and research centers can also use this report to provide critical data to product managers, market analysts, researchers and other professionals needing detailed and updated insights into the thin-film sensor industry.


This report provides an updated review of thin-film sensors, including materials and production processes, and identifies current and emerging applications for this technology.

BCC Research delineates the current market status for thin-film sensors, defines trends and presents growth forecasts for the next five years. The thin-film sensor market is analyzed based on the following segments: type, application and region. In addition, technological issues, including key events and the latest process developments, are also discussed.

More specifically, BCC Research's market analysis is divided into five sections.

In the first section, an introduction to the topic and a historical review of thin-film sensors are provided, including an outline of recent events. In this section, current and emerging applications for thin-film sensors are also identified and described.

The second section provides a technological review of the fabrication steps used to manufacture thin-film sensors, with an outline of the most common processes and innovative production methods. This section concludes with an analysis of the most important technological developments since 2010, including examples of significant patents recently issued or applied for, as well as highlighting the most active research organizations operating in this field.

The third section entails a global market analysis of thin-film sensors. Global revenues (sales data in millions of dollars) are presented for each segment (sensor type, application and region) with actual data for the years 2011 and 2012 and estimated revenues for 2013.

The analysis of current revenues for thin-film sensors is followed by a detailed presentation of market growth trends, based on industry growth, technological trends and regional trends. The third section concludes by providing projected revenues for thin-film sensors within each segment, together with forecasts of compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) for 2013 through 2018.
In the fourth section of the study, which covers global industry structure, the report offers a list of the leading manufacturers of thin-film sensors, together with a description of their products. The analysis includes a description of the geographical distribution of these suppliers and an evaluation of other key industry players. Detailed company profiles of the top players are also provided.

The fifth and final section includes an extensive U.S. and international patent analysis, with a summary of patents related to thin-film sensors, materials, fabrication methods and applications. The patents examined in this study were issued from 2010 through 2013. Patent analysis is performed by region, country, assignee, patent category, application, sensor type and fabrication process.


To analyze the overall market and market segments, both primary and secondary research methodologies were used to obtain market data.

The technology section of this report is based on information derived from technical literature, related BCC Research reports, professional journals, the author's field experience and online sources.

Global market analysis was performed by a thorough investigation of manufacturers of thin-film sensors, raw material suppliers, producers of thin-film fabrication equipment and developers of new technologies, accounting for at least 90% of the global market. Data were obtained from the direct contribution of primary sources, including company executives, managers, engineers and other technical personnel representing manufacturers, developers, and users of thin-film sensors and related technologies and process equipment; representatives of academia and trade associations; and industry market analysts.

Additional data for each company were obtained by thoroughly analyzing Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, websites, annual reports, industry directories, industry magazines and catalogs, government sources, and other public sources.

Secondary sources of information include but are not limited to:

  • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • European Patent Office.
  • Company websites.
  • Company annual reports.
  • Thomas Register.
  • Moody's Directory.
  • S & P Industry Survey.
  • Dun & Bradstreet Business Directory.
  • Foreign chamber of commerce directories.
  • Foreign stock exchange listings.
  • American Ceramic Society publications.
  • American Chemical Society publications.

In addition to utilizing the above primary and secondary sources, market growth trends and forecasts were compiled by gaining additional insights from relevant financial and market information, relevant BCC Research reports, and the author's own in-depth and comprehensive analysis of the collected information.


Margareth Gagliardi, BCC Research's chief research analyst in advanced materials, has 30 years of experience in the field of advanced materials, specializing in ceramic formulations, materials processing and new product development. She has held management positions in both manufacturing and R&D within U.S. and European firms producing electronic, mechanical, chemical and structural components. She holds a B.S. in chemical engineering and an M.S. in ceramic engineering.

Ms. Gagliardi has authored numerous BCC Research studies, including the following that are related to advanced materials and devices, thin- and thick-film technologies, and microelectronics.

  • AVM054B Bioactive Materials: Technologies and Global Markets, 2013.
  • FCB036A Global Markets and Technologies for Thin-Film Batteries, 2013.
  • SMC082A Global Markets for Roll-to-Roll Technologies for Flexible Devices, 2013.
  • NAN043C Global Markets and Technologies for Nanofibers, 2013.
  • AVM052C Aerogels, 2013.
  • HLC084A Portable Medical Electronic Products: Technologies and Global Markets, 2013.
  • AMV065B Global Markets and Technologies for Smart Glass, 2012.
  • SMC057B Global Markets, Technologies and Materials for Thin and Ultrathin Films, 2012.
  • AVM018G Rare Earths: Worldwide Markets, Applications, Technologies, 2012.
  • SMC037E Sputtering Targets and Sputtered Films: Technology and Markets, 2011.
  • SMC070A Paper-Thin Displays: Technologies and Global Markets, 2011.
  • EGY068A Supercapacitors: Technology Developments and Global Markets, 2011.
  • AVM014D Ceramic Matrix Composites: Technologies and Global Markets, 2010.
  • AVM069A Photocatalysts: Technologies and Global Markets, 2010.
  • SMC061B Atomic Layer Deposition, 2010.
  • AVM046B Thick Film Devices, Processes and Applications, 2010.


The global market for thin-film sensors decreased from $2.12 billion in 2012 to $1.98 billion in 2013 and is estimated to be valued at $2.38 billion by the end of 2018, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.8% for the five-year period, 2013 to 2018.

This report provides:

  • An overview of the global market for thin film sensors.
  • Analyses of global market trends with data from 2011 and 2012, estimates for 2013, and projections of CAGRs through 2018.
  • Discussion of how ongoing miniaturization in the semiconductor industry continues to affect other sectors, including the sensors and instrumentation sector; advances in thin film technologies are leading to the increased use of these fabrication methods for manufacturing miniaturized sensors or special coatings for bulk sensors.
  • Identification of the various types of thin film sensors that are currently commercially available.
  • Coverage of market growth trends based on industry growth and regional trends.
  • A summary of patents related to various types of thin film sensors and their fabrication methods and applications.

Download the full report:


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