Molecular Spectroscopy: Handheld Devices Fuel Market

Growth in the overall molecular spectroscopy market is expected to edge back only slightly in 2009 to 6.2%, despite the global recession. With the exception of color analysis and ellipsometry, the majority of demand for most other molecular spectroscopy techniques is significantly related to the few industries that have been largely insulated from the current economic crisis, namely, healthcare, government and academia.

The consistently solid growth of vibrational spectroscopy methods, which include Raman, infrared (IR) and near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy, is in large part due to the rapid rise of portable and handheld instruments. The technological advancements made during the telecommunications revolution of the late 1990s made possible much more compact, reliable and robust instruments that require less power. When combined with major advancements in battery technology, the result was a slew of new handheld spectroscopy instruments. Much of the new demand for these products is coming from government entities for defense, domestic security and first-responder usage, as well as from environmental applications. The quality and performance of many of these handheld instruments rivals that of lower-end benchtop systems, and will cannibalize a significant portion of these markets. Sales of both IR and NIR systems should grow 7% in 2009. Demand for Raman spectroscopy has now reached quite sizable proportions and, while it will continue to experience strong double-digit growth, the days of 20% annual growth are gone.

The two weakest segments of the molecular spectroscopy market in 2009 are color measurement and ellipsometry. Much of the demand for color measurement comes from the textiles and automotive industries, which have collapsed in 2008, and are likely to continue downward in 2009, taking demand for color analysis instrumentation with them. By far the largest demand for ellipsometry comes from the semiconductor and electronics industries. Although some segments of these industries are doing well, such as photovoltaic cells for solar arrays, most of the industry is slowing considerably and is not likely to pick up for some time.

The NMR spectroscopy market, which is the largest segment of the molecular spectroscopy market at over $1 billion, will experience slightly slower growth in 2009, but still grow in the high single digits. The extremely high cost of higher-end NMR systems is causing many end-users to reconsider such large capital expenditures in the current economic environment. However, nearly a third of demand comes from academic and government research laboratories, which are somewhat insulated from the wider economy. The other factor helping to maintain consistent demand in the NMR market is the installed base, which stimulates demand for service and aftermarket products, such as probes and cryogenic gases, which are required to maintain and operate the systems.

Like other molecular spectroscopy markets, growth in demand for UV/Vis spectrometers, polarimeters and refractometers will be down slightly, but not dramatically in 2009. Most of the instruments in both of these areas are very low in price, costing between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars. Therefore, such purchases are not highly dependent on major capital-expenditure decisions by end-user organizations. The UV/Vis spectroscopy market is benefiting from the take-off in demand for microvolume instruments, which are heavily tied to the biotechnology, hospital and clinical industries.

Chart: 2007–10 Total Molecular Spectroscopy Market

2007 2008 2009 2010

Millions $3309 $3516 $3734 $4015

Molecular Spectroscopy 2008–09

Market Share Growth Rate

NMR/EPR 28.6% 8.6%

UV-Vis 20.8% 6.3%

Infrared 17.9% 7.0%

Color Measurement 10.0% -2.3%

Near Infrared 8.0% 6.8%

Raman 5.6% 14.2%

Fluorescence 4.1% 2.6%

Polarimetry/Refrac. 3.3% 3.5%

Ellipsometry 1.7% -8.3%

Total 100.0% 6.2%

Molecular Spectroscopy Market Leaders

UV-Vis Hach, Thermo Fisher Scientific

NMR/EPR Bruker, Varian

Near Infrared FOSS, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Color Measurement X-Rite, Datacolor (Eichholf)

Infrared Thermo Fisher Scientific, PerkinElmer

Raman Horiba, Ahura Scientific

Fluorescence Horiba, Hitachi High-Tech.

Polarimetry/Refractometry ATAGO, Reichert

Ellipsometry JY-Horiba, Sentech

Chart: 2008 Molecular Spectroscopy Supplier Market Shares

Bruker 17%

Varian 8%

Thermo 8%

PerkinElmer 6%

X-Rite 6%

Others 55%

Chart: 2008 Molecular Spectroscopy Market by Product Type


Initial Systems2475.1

Aftermarket 616

Service 425

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