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Terahertz Radiation Systems: Technologies and Global Markets

  • June 2017
  • 148 pages
  • BCC Research
Report ID: 97906


Table of Contents

- The global market for terahertz radiation devices and systems reached $56.4 million in 2016. This market is expected to increase from $57.3 million in 2017 to $335.1 million in 2022 and $1.3 billion in 2027 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42.4% for 2017-2022.
- The imaging market is expected to grow from $39.8 million in 2017 to $175.9 million in 2022 at a CAGR of 34.6% from 2017 through 2022.
- The spectroscopy market is expected to grow from $17.5 million in 2017 to $20.3 million in 2022 at a CAGR of 3.0% from 2017 through 2022.

Over the last 100 years or so, physicists and engineers have progressively learned to exploit new areas of the electromagnetic spectrum. Starting with visible light, they have developed technologies for generating and detecting radiation at both higher and lower frequencies.

Sandwiched between the optical on the short wavelength side and radio on the long wavelength extreme, the terahertz (THz) frequency range (also called the far infrared or submillimeter-wave region) has been the least explored and developed portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The potential usefulness of THz radiation, with its ability to penetrate a wide range of nonconducting materials, has been known for a long time. The first images generated using THz radiation date from as far back as the 1960s.

Practical applications of THz radiation have been longer in coming, however, due to the so-called “terahertz gap.”
The terahertz gap refers to the technologies needed to generate, channel and detect THz radiation subject to real-world constraints, such as size, cost and operating temperatures. Recent developments in THz radiation sources, detectors and waveguides have started to close the terahertz gap, opening up a range of potential applications in transportation security, medical imaging, nondestructive testing and other fields.

Study Goals and Objectives

Specific objectives include:
- Identifying the THz applications that are most likely to achieve significant commercial sales by 2027.
- Assessing any remaining barriers to their commercialization, and developing quantitative estimates of potential sales.
- Analyzing promising THz applications in the context of user needs and competing technologies.
- Developing quantitative market projections through 2027.
- Identifying companies that are well positioned to profit from these trends.

Reasons for Doing This Study
BCC considers the time appropriate for an update. There is a growing interest in terahertz radiation applications and markets. As Henrij Komrij, General Manager of Keysight Technologies (Santa Rosa, Calif.), expressed it,” it’s a combination of the technology being advanced and the drivers in the market driving more research and investment into the technology of terahertz applications.”

Scope of Report
The report addresses the emerging global market for THz radiation devices, including the classes of devices listed below.
- Imaging devices.
- Spectroscopes.
- Other sensors.
- Communications devices.
- Computing devices.

The study format includes the following major elements:
- Executive summary.
- Definitions.
- General properties of THz radiation.
- Historical milestones in the development of THz radiation devices.
- Emerging and developmental THz radiation technologies and applications that have the greatest commercial potential through 2027.
- Detailed market estimates and projections for each technology and application during the period 2017 to 2022.
- General assessment of expected market trends in the longer term (2022 to 2027).
- Industry structure.
- Patent analysis.

Information Sources
Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used in preparing this study. A comprehensive review of the literature related to the applications and technology of rigid clear polymers and significant new developments was undertaken. Supplier and trade literature, texts and monographs were included in the review.

Projecting the market for emerging technologies, whose commercial potential has not yet been proven, is a challenging task. This is nowhere truer than the THz radiation field, which may help to explain why many analysts focus on supply-side technology assessments.

BCC Research’s objective in this report is to provide not just a technology assessment, however, but also an initial commercial assessment of the potential commercial market for THz devices. To accomplish this objective, BCC Research used a multiphase approach to identify the technologies with the greatest commercial potential and quantify the related markets.

In the first phase of the analysis, BCC Research identified a long list of THz technologies and applications, including those that are still under development. In the second phase, BCC Research eliminated those applications that appear to have little likelihood of making it into commercial use in the next five to 10 years, which was accomplished through a literature review and interviews with industry sources. The result of phase two was a short list of THz technologies with the greatest commercial potential over the time period covered by this report.

The third phase focused on quantifying the potential market for each short-listed THz technology, by application, and identifying the main prerequisites for commercial success. Phase three actually had two phases: 1) development of near-to midterm (2017 to 2022) projections, and 2) development of longer- term (2022 to 2027) projections.

The development of such long-term projections is a departure from the usual BCC Research report format, necessitated by the long time frame for commercialization of many of the technologies analyzed in this report. Obviously, the projections for the out-years beyond 2022 are more tentative than the projections for 2017 to 2022.

The specific assumptions and approach BCC Research used to develop the projections (both near-
/midterm and long-term) for each THz technology and application are documented in detail under the various segments addressed. This way, readers can see how the market estimates were developed and, if they so desire, test the impact on the final numbers of changing the underlying assumptions.

One of the approaches used by BCC Research deserves special mention here. Particularly in the case of THz applications that are still under development, BCC Research used the sales performance of non-THz applications that share some of the same functions or other characteristics with the respective THz applications as a benchmark for assessing the latter’s sales potential.

Geographic Breakdown
The market projections in this report include the entire global market.

Summary and Highlights
BCC Research estimates the total market for THz systems at $56.4 million in 2016. The market should increase slightly by the end of 2017 to $57.3 million. The bulk of the market in 2013-2014 is in astronomy applications, including earth satellites and space probes.

The development of new commercial THz applications should push the market to $335.1 million in 2022. The diversification of the THz market is expected to accelerate after 2022, and the total market should exceed $1.3 billion by 2027.

Astronomy research is currently the largest single application of THz systems. However, by 2022, THz transport applications are expected to surpass astronomy in importance. By 2027, computing, transport security, biomedical imaging and military communications are all expected to surpass astronomy research in importance.

Consumer applications are notably missing from this list. According to Mona Jerrahi, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and director of the Terahertz Electronics Lab at UCLA, “One of the things that is still missing in the field that has prevented exponential growth on the consumer market has been identifying a ‘killer application’ like what cell phone industry did, like what computer industry did that can bring big flow of funding and resources and experts to the field”.

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