Atomic spectroscopy comprises a number of technologies primarily intended to provide the elemental composition of samples, using some portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to detect characteristic signatures of the different atomic structures. Total market demand for atomic spectroscopy reached $3.6 billion in 2016, and growth is expected to pick up slightly, advancing 3.3% in 2017.
Environmental testing is one of the most important drivers for demand, and sales for these applications remain stable, supporting growth particularly in developing countries. More industrial applications in oil and gas, and metals performed poorly in 2016, but there should be some improvement in demand from at least the metals industry in 2017. Oil and gas demand may take longer to return to health.
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is the largest individual segment of the atomic spectroscopy market, with total sales topping $1 billion last year. The sales growth of this segment continues to outpace the overall average for atomic spectroscopy but has moderated. The forecast for 2017 is for demand to grow 4.0%.
X-ray diffraction (XRD) is the next largest segment and is forecast to have the fastest growth for 2017, stimulated by both protein research and a number of wrinkles on the technique that continue to gain traction, such as small-angle and wide-angle x-ray scattering, which is supported on many XRD instruments. Other techniques with better-than-average growth prospects are total organic carbon (TOC) analyzers and inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Other segments should experience at least some growth, with the exception of organic elemental analyzers, which continue to face competition from more general purpose instruments that have broader applications.
Although some of the more elaborate techniques (XRF, XRD and ICP-MS) have relatively few vendors, there is a fairly low barrier to enter many of these spectroscopic markets, and a great many vendors compete in the overall space. Thermo Fisher Scientific has the greatest market share, as the company competes in virtually all of the technologies and is a major player in several. Bruker, PANalytical (Spectris) and Rigaku are also significant competitors, with much of their revenues coming from XRF and XRD, although Bruker in particular has expanded its reach into several other areas of atomic spectroscopy. PerkinElmer and Agilent Technologies round out the top six competitors; both companies focus more on the core environmental technologies of atomic absorbance spectroscopy, ICP spectroscopy and ICP-MS. Agilent Technologies has been gaining traction with its novel microwave plasma spectroscopy platform. Other significant vendors include LECO, HORIBA and Analytik Jena (Endress+Hauser).