Sapphire can be defined as a material which has a unique combination of chemical, physical and optical properties that makes it resistant to thermal shock, high temperature, and scratching and water and sand erosion. Sapphire substrates are used in the manufacturing of bright green and blue LED’s as they are ideal for epitaxial deposition of GaN and other III-V and II-VI thin-films. The LED epiwafer market comprises majority of the demand for sapphire substrates and the demand for it is highly dependent on the development of the LED industry.
From the supply point of view, Kyropoulos (KY) sapphire crystal growth methods are mainly used for LED substrates. The supply flexibility for KY sapphire crystal growth methods is very limited. Technologically, the growth method of KY crystals is very professional and requires high human resource investments.
As per recent trends it has been observed that the demand for sapphire substrates is very high from as a result of its application in Apple iWatch. This trend is likely to continue in the near future as sapphire substrates are widely used in the Apple iWatch. Moreover, sapphire substrates are also used by various Chinese smartphone manufacturers. These manufacturers mostly use sapphire substrates in their high end smartphones. Sapphire substrates are also used in the consumer electronics segment.
The sapphire substrates market is expected grow as a result its increasing application base which was earlier mostly limited to light emitting diodes (LED) production. Sapphire substrates find wide application in various electronic devices. Moreover, the emergence of Silicon-On-Sapphire is also expected to impact the demand for sapphire substrates positively. Properties such as high temperature resistance, thermal stability chemical stability and low dielectric loss among others make it ideal for use as an insulating substrate in CMOS IC’s. The demand for sapphire substrates is expected to be mostly driven by it’s the increase in the use of sapphire in luxury watch covers, ballistic windows, mobile phone display glass, smartphones and radio frequency integrated circuits among others. The market is also likely to witness huge investment on the part of the semiconductor manufacturers into research and development activities. The LED industry contributes to a major part of the sapphire substrates market as more than 90% of the blue LEDs produced use sapphire substrates. Sapphire substrates are used in the LED industry as a result of low energy consumption, longer life, higher brightness and better quality LED chips among others. However, the market has been an increase in the demand for sapphire substrates which have a diameter of 4 inches and above due to its high demand from the automotive sector. Moreover, the role of silicon-on sapphire in the development of LTE based next generation wireless communication devices is expected to be of prime importance, which is expected to impact the demand for sapphire substrates in the forecast period positively. Military segment is another area where sapphire substrates are used. They enable in the protection of tanks and missile systems.
On the basis of geography, the sapphire substrates market is segmented into five regions; North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa and Latin America. Asia Pacific is one of the largest regions in terms of revenue.
Some of the key players operating in the sapphire substrates market include; Crystalwise Technology Inc., Crystal Applied Technology, Gavish, DK Aztec Co. Ltd., Guangdong Saifei Sapphire Technology Co. Ltd., Hansol Technics Co, Ltd., Guizhou Haotian Ooelectronics Technology Co. Ltd., Hua Shun Technology Co. Ltd., Kyocera Corporation, Jiangsu Jeshine New Material Co. Ltd., Namiki Precision Jewel, Monocrystal, NNanjing J-Crystal Photoelectric Technology Co. Ltd., Procrystal Technology Co. Ltd., Precision Micro-Optics LLC, Rubicon Technology Inc., Rayotek Scientific Inc., TDG Holding Co. Ltd., USI Optronics Corporation and Saint-Gobain Crystals among others.
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