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Optoelectronics shows upward trend in Asia

Posted: 14 May 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:optoelectronics? optocoupler? dwdm? vcsel? oled?

While the electronics industry is only now showing some signs of recovery, the optoelectronics component market is experiencing remarkable growth by comparison. The primary driver has been the telecom industry calling for an ever-increasing expansion in infrastructure as well as development of components to support a rapidly growing bandwidth demand. Given the current economic situation, new technologies, such as DWDM, VCSEL and OLED are helping to maintain a steady growth in this sector.

With expected growth rates ranging from 25 to 35 percent over the next two years, analysts consider this as the fastest growing sector in the electronics industry. Recent reports indicate the overall market size will grow to more than $2.5 billion in 2005.

Take China, for example, which has emerged as the strongest market for optical communications. During just the first half of last year, the Chinese optical transport market reached $1.1 billion. The overall figure last year is expected to be close to $1.9 billion, reaching $5.5 billion by 2004. The country is expected to install 65 million fiber-kilometers of cable at all levels of its fiber-optic network in the five years from 2001 to 2005. Demand is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 11 percent from 11 million fiber-kilometers last year to 16 million fiber-kilometers in 2005.

Last year, China's optical communications sector saw a 10 percent growth with sales value of related products exceeding $482 million. Another country demanding close attention is Taiwan with its own push into the LCD market.

Respondent profile indicating an inclination to comm system apps in the Asian optoelectronics market
(Click on image for larger view)
In view of this, Electronic Engineering Times ? Asia's user survey on the latest optoelectronics component and module usage trends in Asia will try to bring into light some of the key design concepts engineers and component vendors take most fancy to, marking a new industry trend altogether.

Strong inclination

A high percentage of the survey respondents belonged to the communications systems/equipment segment, closely followed by consumer electronics and industrial controls & equipment. It is worth noting that across the region, more than half of the respondents work for companies that earned less than $20 million in their 2001 revenue. This is slightly different for Taiwan, where the respondents' companies earned more than $50 million in the same year. Most of the companies with high revenues belong to the communications systems/equipment segment, validating the fact that this segment has been the primary driver of growth in optoelectronics.

Optoelectronics usage

Among the various optoelectronic components found in the market today, LEDs, optocouplers, connectors/splices, isolators, splitters and attenuators are used most often across Asia. Among LED users, most respondents design in IR LEDs. This is especially true of Taiwan, where a significant number of respondents belong to the computers/computer peripherals segment.

Component subsystem usage spread across Asia, with LEDs topping the list
(Click on image for larger view)
Of particular interest is the OLED usage, which is high considering that this is a new technology. OLED technology is well suited for flexible substrates. Development in plastic substrates and organic electronics will drive growth in the OLED industry.

A breakdown of semiconductor-laser-diode usage across the region reveals that IR laser diodes, fiber amplifiers, tunable lasers and visible-light lasers are in high demand. A high application of infrared light emitters leads to the high usage of infrared detectors.

CMOS image sensors have gained in popularity and are challenging the traditional CCD types. While there is considerable overlap in the types of sensors useda single respondent using more than one type of image sensorthe survey shows that 67.8 percent of the image-sensor users are going for CMOS sensors.

Additionally, component manufacturers often integrate optical components into single compact modules. Off-the-shelf modules help reduce design time for engineers since they are usually optimized for high performance and functionality. The most common modules in Asia are related to display products and most engineers design with LCDs and LED displays, with few designing in electroluminescent or plasma displays.

Taiwan's companies are rushing to develop OLED displays initially for the mobile phone market. A recent report by the U.S. industry analyst Stanford Resources predicts that the global market for OLED displays will reach $2.3 billion in 2008 up from $112 million this year. The report added that the active-matrix OLED display market will grow to $1.8 billion in 2008 to account for 78 percent of the total OLED segment.

Growth indicators

The optoelectronics segment, like many other electronics industry segments, is dependent on consumer demands and requirements. However, applications in long-term communications infrastructure projects have made it more immune to short-term fluctuations in demand. This is the main reason that the optoelectronics segment has fared better than most during the recent global economic slump.

This industry sector is expected to continue being the most rapidly growing segment in the electronics industry in the mid-term future. Analysts predict growth rates of up to 50 percent over the next two years.

? Vivek Nanda

Executive Editor

Electronic Engineering Times ? Asia

Read more of the results of the Electronic Engineering Times Asia survey on the latest optoelectronics component and module usage trends in Asia. Download a copy of the white paper entitled "Optoelectronics Application Trends: Asia."

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