Lithium Tantalate Crystal Market – ‘Need for Speed’ to Create Huge Opportunities in the Telecommunication Industry

New applications on the horizon for lithium tantalate crystal, meaning new revenue streams!

According to the findings of a recently published research report by Transparency Market Research (TMR), the global lithium tantalate crystal market is progressively gaining sheen by getting a hold of the traditional applications of quartz and lithium niobate. Lithium tantalate crystals will take over the telecommunication world due to the ever-growing need for increased bandwidth to facilitate cloud computing, data transfer, and data storage.

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Growth will also unfold from the pronounced trend of using lithium tantalate crystals in acoustic wave devices for the manufacturing of electrical components. Zoomed in focus towards energy harvesting is likely to spectate high reliance on lithium tantalate crystals. However, it may be interesting to know that, despite the first synthesizing of lithium tantalate crystals being done in Russia, Asia Pacific will hold on to a massive slice of the market share, with the high demand for these crystals in numerous applications in the electronics and telecommunication industry.

Though the lithium tantalate crystal market holds a steady growth potential, the complex production process incurring high costs is likely to pose as a challenge. All in all, the lithium tantalate crystal market is all set to record a compound annual growth rate of 5.5% during the forecast period of 2019-2027, with the telecommunication industry being the key revenue pocket for this market.

What Sets Lithium Tantalate Crystals Apart from the Pack

While quartz has been the default crystal for the optical, telecommunication, semiconductor, construction, and electronics industries for a long time, growing focus on lithium tantalate crystals can be highly attributed to their distinguishing characteristics. When compared to quartz, lithium tantalate crystals possess larger electro-mechanical coupling, as they exhibit useful cuts for longitudinal and shear wave mode transducers. Since the telecommunication industry demands broad bandwidth, lithium tantalate crystals are gaining the attention of manufacturers for the development of acoustic resonator filters.

Another crystal exhibiting near-LiTaO3-like properties is lithium niobate (LiNbO3). Both, lithium tantalate crystals and lithium niobate crystals are developed using the Czochralski method for yielding large and high-quality single crystals. However, lithium tantalate crystals are fast replacing lithium niobate crystals, in light of their unique electro-optical, pyroelectric, and piezoelectric properties with a high optical damage threshold. This makes LiTaO3 highly suitable for the development of surface acoustic wave (SAW) substrates, optical waveguides, pyroelectric detectors, and electro-optical modulators, among others.

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In Focus: Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) Devices and Asia Pacific

Manufacturers in the electronics and telecommunication industries are striving to position their products in prominent light, with speedy transmission, storage, and receiving of data being the key attractive proposition. As the need for integrating a better non-linear optical material with higher efficiency in electronic circuits and transmission channels increases, the lithium tantalate crystal industry is likely to be at the center of these innovative devices. However, a significant share of the market will be routed from the growing applications of surface acoustic wave (SAW) devices.

Currently, acoustic wave devices account for ~ 55% share of lithium tantalate crystal sales, as manufacturers of consumer electronics seek materials with versatile characteristics for fluid measurements, geophysics, televisions, laptops, and similar smart devices. As the effectiveness of optical communication gains traction, lithium tantalate crystals are exploited as substrates for the development of electro-optical devices such as directional couplers, scanners, modulators, Q switches, and spatial light modulators. The demand for electro-optical devices is likely to increase exponentially, approaching a lucrative juncture for the lithium crystal devices market during the forecast period of 2019-2027.

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The increasing demand for high-end electronic devices in Asia Pacific will offer a fillip to the growing lithium tantalate crystal industry. Increasing focus on offering cutting-edge smartphones, tablets, desktops, and laptops has enthused manufacturers to move past the limited efficiency of quartz towards lithium tantalate crystals, which hold the potential to unlock revenue streams from the semiconductor industry during the coming years, and, in turn, revamp the future opportunities for the telecommunication industry.

High Internet Bandwidth Requirements to Speed Up Market Growth

As the ‘need for speed’ in the telecommunication industry drives a shift towards effective materials, the future of the lithium tantalate crystal landscape seems propitious with the growing demand for high-speed Internet for small and large-scale applications, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology making its debut in consumers’ space. A perpetual rise in the demand for communication networks with broad bandwidths will uphold the demand for lithium tantalate crystals in base stations. The rollout of 5G networks, in turn, holds the key to enormous sales for the landscape. Initiatives taken by governments to digitalize cities under ‘Smart City’ projects are leading to an uptick in the deployment of broadband networks.

As the world looks at the emergence of optical fibers as a revolution to communication systems with minimum data loss, futuristic applications of lithium tantalate crystals will revolve around the development of optical cables. Overall, the lithium tantalate crystal market is likely to record a value of ~ US$ 790 million in 2027.

How Market Players Can Position Themselves Better

The lithium tantalate crystal market witnesses moderate competition, with 25-35% of the share held by leading players – Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd and Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd. Leading companies focus on strengthening their presence in overseas territories, and Asia Pacific, North America, and Europe are lucrative regions for the lithium tantalate crystal market. Huge investments are also made on research and development activities to develop products and broaden their offering capacities.

A majority of lithium tantalate crystal manufacturers also develop lithium niobate crystals, thereby, creating a low threat of substitutes. However, as these crystals are increasingly replacing traditionally-used crystals such as quartz and lithium niobate, manufacturers can prioritize their investments towards the development of lithium tantalate with enhanced capabilities. Since the production process of lithium tantalate crystals is complex and requires high working capital, manufacturers can expend efforts towards the development of cost-effective products. Investments in developing countries will remain profitable with control on the overhead costs.

  • According to Transparency Market Research’s latest market report on the global lithium tantalate crystal market for the historical year 2017 and the forecast period of 2019–2027, the rising demand for lithium tantalate crystals in the telecommunications sector and the increasing use of electro-optical devices are expected to drive the global lithium tantalate crystal market during the forecast period.
  • In terms of revenue, the global lithium tantalate crystal market is estimated to reach a value of ~ US$ 510 Mn by the end of 2019, expanding at a CAGR of 5.5% throughout the forecast period. 

Varied Benefits Offered by Lithium Tantalate Crystals Over Other Crystals a Key Market Driver

  • Lithium tantalate crystals possess a combination of electro-optical, acoustic, piezoelectric and non-linear optical properties. These properties make lithium tantalate crystals suitable for use in a wide range of applications such as SAW devices, telecommunications equipment, and other optical devices.
  • Compared to quartz, lithium tantalate has a much stronger electromechanical coupling and a higher number of zero-temperature coefficient cuts of resonant frequency. As a result, it is used in communications for acoustic resonator filters of high bandwidths.

Increasing Use in Telecommunications – Latest Trend being Adopted by Key Market Players

  • Lithium tantalate is an indispensable material for important components of telecommunication devices. The increasing usage of IoT and 5G technologies has augmented the global lithium tantalate crystal market.
  • Lithium tantalate crystals are used in communication devices such as mobiles and base stations (for high-speed communication), and other IoT-based devices.
    • For instance, lithium tantalate crystals of 42° and 36° cuts witness widespread adoption in mobile phone handsets at frequencies ranging from 800 to 2100 MHz.

High Costs to Pose a Major Challenge to the Lithium Tantalate Crystal Market

  • Lithium tantalate crystals are available in different dimensions and cuts. The cost of a lithium tantalate crystal varies depending upon its dimension. More the dimension of the crystal, higher is the cost associated with it.
  • Also, the complex production of lithium tantalate crystals by using the Czochralski process restricts the market. However, new production processes are being in developed to reduce the cost of lithium tantalate crystals.

Global Lithium Tantalate Crystal Market: Competition Landscape

  • Detailed profiles of the manufacturers of lithium tantalate crystals have been provided in the report to evaluate their financials, key product offerings, recent developments, and strategies.
  • Key players operating in the global lithium tantalate crystal market are –
    • Precision Micro-Optics Inc.
    • Korth Kristalle GmbH
    • Castech Inc.
    • Hangzhou Freqcontrol Electronic Technology Ltd.
    • Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd.
    • Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd
    • Yamaju Ceramics Co., Ltd.
    • American Elements
    • United Crystals
    • Del Mar Photonoics Inc.
    • Oxide Corporation

Global Lithium Tantalate Crystal Market: Key Developments

Key manufacturers operating in the global lithium tantalate crystal market, such as Castec Inc. and Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd, are strengthening their market position by improving product quality and expanding their business. Certain key developments in the global lithium tantalate crystal market are as follows:

  • In October 2017, Castech Inc. announced the launch of a new production line for the laser and telecom industries. This production line consists of electro-optical switches, isolators, and collimators. The move is estimated to widen the company’s product portfolio and complement its existing strengths in the fields of telecom and lasers.
  • Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd. is planning to increase its focus on the expansion of its existing facilities. Moreover, it is planning to construct manufacturing bases across the world in order to develop a wider sales network.

In the report on the global lithium tantalate crystal market, we have discussed the individual strategies of the manufacturers of lithium tantalate crystals, followed by their company profiles. The ‘Competition Landscape’ section has been included in the report to provide readers with a dashboard view and company market share analysis of the key players operating in the global lithium tantalate crystal market.

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