Metamaterials enable electromagnetic and acoustic performance characteristics that no conventional design can match, and are finally becoming practical to manufacture and use, said Anthony Vicari, analyst at Lux Research and lead author of the report. These performance advantages are especially valuable in communications antennas, as well as sensors such as radar and lidar. With the imminent rollout in 5G network infrastructure and devices, and the subsequent projected growth in connected and autonomous vehicles, metamaterials are becoming viable at just the right time to see rapid growth in these new markets.
The report provides a detailed technical and market landscape, as well as market forecasts across key application segments. Key takeaways include:
Metamaterial devices offer smaller size, greater energy efficiency, and more precise directionality and control. In many cases, metamaterial devices are not much more expensive to produce than conventional devices. As a result, once metamaterial options reach the market, conventional offerings are likely to become uncompetitive.
The 5G segment will grow rapidly in the early 2020s with the rollout of new network infrastructure. Growth in the sensor market, especially for automotive, will take off in the late 2020s.
The startup landscape has more than doubled in size in the past few years, reflecting accelerating innovation in this space and a larger underlying ecosystem of research groups familiar with the technology.
Key early metamaterial antenna patents are set to expire in the 2024 to 2028 timeframe. At that point, we expect to see a rapid increase in the number of companies developing metamaterials, like the explosion of activity 3D printing experienced after early patents expired between 2005 and 2008.
Metamaterials are a design-driven trend and build on the current momentum in design software and additive manufacturing. As a result, expect rapid technology adoption at the speed of software, not the slower pace typical of new material innovations.