Smart Materials Replace Components: A New $200 Billion Business, IDTechEx Forecasts

​​​Here come previously impossible devices and structures. The new IDTechEx report, “Smart Material Opportunities in Structural Electronics 2020-2030” analyzes and forecasts a remarkable $200 billion materials opportunity by making dumb structures smart. Save weight, space and cost. Eliminate maintenance. Ten times the life. Enable bionic men and women. Welcome huge drones with solar airframes aloft for five years, beaming the internet to everyone. Cars will soon have 10% of the parts as many components become load-bearing, multifunctional composites. Solar bodywork for the latest cars, later doubling as energy storage too, means they will never have to plug in. In fact, the Executive Summary and Conclusions predicts better appliances, wearables and vehicles that will last generations. Think one-piece, flexible phones with no case, even smart roads. Six countries are pleased with their experimental solar roads, and that is just a start. Everywhere there will be smart materials, not components-in-a-box.

The report introduces the enablers of all this, such as additive metal and dielectric patterning, some stretchable, and the new organic, inorganic and composite materials merged. Here we have the e-window performing three functions, five later, and the potential for a composite ocean wave blanket acting as a power station, all facilitated by new materials and processing with huge sales potential.

Many infograms pull together the market readiness of composites and how improved metal patterning can create electricity and bend light. See separate forecasts for vehicles, building and ground-integrated photovoltaics, for in-mold electronics, flexible AMOLEDs and other structural electronics/ electrics/ optronics as multifunctional material. Even elements of this are forecast, including embedded RFID, solar cars, building-integrated photovoltaics, smart glass. Appraise technology roadmaps for flexible phones as they integrate flexible batteries.

The introduction reveals the evolution of the needs and practices with phones, wearables, vehicles, structures and more. Which of the 12 energy harvesting technologies lend themselves to being incorporated in the new monolithic smart structures? The Tesla sunroof with electric tinting and lighting functions in one glass, and human body area networks, energy positive solar boats and self-healing plastics are among the host of examples explained.

Chapter 3 Vehicle Integrated Photovoltaics VIPV introduces such things as energy positive solar cars, autonomous solar flying wings that replace trucks and those upper atmosphere solar drones. Infograms show how many disciplines are leveraged to deliver many benefits here. Why the importance of single-crystal silicon bodywork but the potential of GaAs film and thin film, 3 junction InGaP, GaAs, InGaAs. Which companies, why, by when?

Chapter 4 pulls together Smart Roads, Bridges, Buildings, emphasizing new materials and potential. Here is the largest sector, BIPV, including solar tiles and windows. What materials and benefits are there? What is the scope for heat and piezoelectric harvesting roads? Why did solar roads and environs fail in Germany and France but look good in the U.K., Netherlands, Japan, China and Hungary? What new materials? What next?

Chapter 5 goes deeper with Materials and Manufacturing: Large Structural Electrics. Here is structural battery and supercapacitor technology from graphene and CNT, glass and carbon fiber to vanadium and ruthenium-boosting pseudocapacitance. Learn about new reinforcement with multifunctional resins. Understand the progress of electrically multifunctional fibers, smart glass electrically changing color, tints, displays, darkness, photovoltaic action, even greenhouses optimizing both electricity creation and plant growth with new dyes. Throughout, there are many examples of research progress and deployment.

Chapter 6 Monolithic Flexible Display Materials and Technology examines the materials and processes as glass-free AMOLEDS becoming a complete flexible phone or another device. No need for a case. What is monolithic now and what gets incorporated later? How do you print flexible quantum dot displays? What seven key components merge into flexible OLEDs?

Chapters 7 addresses, in detail, the vital new subject of Vehicle and Consumer Goods Simplification: In Mold Electronics, with its stretchable inks, dielectric patterning and so on. Chapter 8 covers alternatives and complementary materials and processes, such as Conformal Printing, MID, 3D printed electronics using elastomers and metals, optronics and research on the spraying of electrically active new materials. “Smart Material Opportunities in Structural Electronics 2020-2030” analyzes and forecasts a formidable new business opportunity.

To find out more about Advanced Materials research available from IDTechEx visit or to connect with others on this topic, IDTechEx is hosting: The IDTechEx Show!, May 13-14, 2020, Estrel Convention Center, Berlin, Germany

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