Electronics & Computers

Yole Releases Infrared Detector Trends Report

March 6, 2012

The research examines market, application, and technology developments and predicts that overall sales will grow from $152 million in 2010 to $286 million in 2016.

Lyon, France -- Yole Developpement announces its report "Infrared Detector Market, Applications & Technology Trends." New MEMS thermopile players and applications are the main trends boosting the market growth identified by Yole Developpement's technology and market analyst, Yann de Charentenay.

Infrared Detectors In Our Daily Environment
Infrared detectors have been used as motion detectors for decades in our daily life for lighting controls and alarms. This business is very important in terms of volume, with 150 million units sold in 2010, but the price of the detectors is very low (less than $1). "Even if this motion detector business is mature, it will continue to grow at a significant rate (CAGR 2010-2016 in value: + 9 %), driven by the concern for energy savings," announces Yann de Charentenay, Senior analyst. In the coming years, it will be increasingly used to switch off/on automatically lighting and home appliances, such as HVAC systems and TVs."

Another common use of infrared detectors is for noncontact temperature measurement for applications like human ear thermometer or industrial pyrometers. IR detectors can also be used to detect gas or fire or to analyze materials. For those applications, the detector's price can vary, from a single dollar to tens of dollars each. Here also, the business is growing, driven by interest in IR detection's very robust noncontact measurement and long lifetime. The technology behind the applications is quite mature and uses small detectors from one to four IR sensitive elements that can be made with two technologies: pyroelectric sensors or thermopile sensors.

Large Market Players Entering the Market
The infrared detector industry was quite stable up to now, with a few players dominating the business, especially for motion detection. Perkin Elmer sold its IR detector branch, which became Excelitas (DE), Nicera (JP), Murata (JP), and Heimann (DE).

Some niche players (Pyreos and Irisys) have also developed innovative pyroelectric technologies (thin film and ceramic hybrid) that enable arrays of sensitive elements, but the volume sold is still limited to niche markets (e.g., counting people, gas detection, spectroscopy).

Large MEMS manufacturers are entering the IR detector business in 2011: Texas Instruments, Omron, Panasonic, and Hamamatsu. These companies, who have substantial revenues and resources, have developed thermopile detectors that are processed on their MEMS large production line (6 in. to 8 in.). In that position, they have very competitive production costs that will provide access to new applications. For instance, Texas Instruments targets the temperature measurement function for portable consumer electronic applications (e.g., notebooks and tablets).

New Large Detector Applications
Large detectors (from 16 by 16 to 64 by 64 pixels) are developed to obtain advanced person detection functionalities, meaning it is possible to locate the position of a person precisely in a space, to identify immobile persons (not possible with motion sensors), or to monitor large areas. The end markets will be for home automation, healthcare, or security businesses.

In this large-detector market, several technologies will compete: pyroelectric, thermopile, and microbolometers. Pyroelectric and thermopiles are well advanced, thanks to their position on small detectors, but still need to increase their detector size. Microbolometer technology is leading the infrared imager business, where image resolution is higher than 10,000 pixels and prices are several hundred dollars. Microbolometer players (Ulis, Flir, NEC, DRS) have started to develop or investigate large detector applications, but the low-cost target will be a big challenge for those players. "Next year will be crucial to determine which technology will be the most adopted", announces Wenbin Ding, Technology & Market Analyst, MEMS Devices and Technologies.

All in all, with the arrival of new MEMS players and the emergence of large detector applications, Yole Developpement expects that the overall IR detector business will grow from $152 million in 2010 at a rate of 11% per year to $286 million in 2016.

About the Report

  • Yann de Charentenay, Senior Analyst was granted a masters degree in physics from INP G in Grenoble and also in innovation management from Compiegne University. Since 2003, he has worked for Yole Development in the field of MEMS, materials, and compound semiconductors. He has contributed to more than 60 marketing and technological analysis.
  • Wenbin Ding is a Technology and Market Analyst at Yole Developpement, specializing in MEMS devices and technologies. She has participated in numerous marketing and technological custom studies throughout the MEMS devices and technologies industry supply chain. Wenbin Ding also contributes to Yole Developpement's market and technology reports. Wenbin Ding has served as MEMS Trends' magazine Editor, a company publication, to describe and analyze the Asian MEMS industry. Wenbin Ding holds a Master of Electronic Engineering from ENSI CAEN.

Catalogue Price:
€3,990.00 (single user license)—Publication date: Jan. 2012. For special offers and the price in dollars, please contact David Jourdan, jourdan@yole.fr or call +33 472 83 01 90).

Companies Cited:
3S pocketnet, Agilent, Ametek, BAE , Bosch security, Cerberus, CSST , Delphi, Dias Infrared, DRS , Dostmann, E+e, Excelitas, FL IR, Fluke, Fuji Piezo, G&E, Hager, Hamamatsu, Heimann, Heitronics, Honeywell security, ICX FL IR, Infratec, Intex, Irisys, Korea digital, L3com, Land, Legrand, Leister Axetris, Lumasense ITC , Melexis, Memstech - Ann arbor, Merten, Mitsubishi Electric, Murata, NEC Avio, Nicera, Omega, Omron, Panasonic, Perkin Elmer, Pyreos, Raytheon, Ritsumeikan University, Samsung, SCD , Schneider Electric, Selex galileo, Sensair, Senseair, Sensource, Shimadzu, Somfy, Sony, Symetrix, Telaire, Texas Instrument, Thermofisher, Tyco security, Tyndall, Ulis, UTC Fire & Security, Visonic, Winsen, Wuan Cubic, Yongsheng, and ZB sensor.

About Yole Developpement
Beginning in 1998, Yole Developpement has grown to become a group of companies that provides market research, technology analysis, strategy consulting, and media, in addition to finance services. With a solid focus on emerging applications using silicon and/or micro manufacturing, the Yole Developpement group has expanded to include more than 40 associates worldwide, covering MEMS, microfluidics and Medical, advanced packaging, compound semiconductors, power electronics, LEDs, and photovoltaics. The group supports companies, investors, and R&D organizations worldwide to help them understand markets and follow technology trends to develop their business.

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