Advanced functional materials offer a huge scope for study, as its horizon encompasses a wide range of products and applications across industries. Functional materials are generally considered to be materials which posses some native functional properties, and not materials with just load bearing capabilities. The advanced functional materials can be segmented by product types into: advanced functional ceramics, advanced functional composites, nano materials, advanced energy materials, and conductive polymers among others. These functional materials find applications in a host of end user applications.
Advanced functional ceramics are used as components in electronic and electrical devices. Functional ceramics also finds extensive bio-medical applications. Apart from its use in manufacturing of medical devices, it is also used as femoral heads and acetabular cups in the hip replacement procedure. Functional ceramic is also used for dental implants and as scaffolds and bone fillers for tissue engineering. Advanced ceramic materials play a key role in the development of many fields such as energy and environmental technology, transportation and production technology. Nano materials also have interdisciplinary functions and are used in various applications in different chemicals, materials, electronic products, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and aerospace industry. A lot of research has been undertaken to explore other possible applications of nano materials, and the segment is assured of growth in the future.
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Functional composites harness the desirable properties of several materials and combine them to produce a new functional material. Functional composites are extensively used in electronics, building and construction, automotive, marine and aerospace applications. It is also used to manufacture pipes, tanks and other consumer goods. Advanced energy materials refer to the materials which functionally store energy. These materials are used in applications such as batteries, flywheels, solar cells, super capacitors, and high energy density capacitors among others. This segment has witnessed strong demand due to the advent of portable electronic devices and renewable energy systems. The segment is also expected to grow faster than the industry growth rate with the growth in demand for advanced technologies across the world. Conductive polymers are organic polymers with the capability to conduct electricity. It is preferred to the metallic conductors, mainly due to their processability through dispersion.
The largest market for advanced functional materials is Asia Pacific region. The demand for the different kinds of functional materials in this region is high due to the presence of manufacturing economies in this region. Automotive, aerospace, and electronics account for the bulk of the demand. China, India, Japan and South Korea are the main markets in this region. The demand from Asia Pacific was followed by that from North America and Europe. The Asia Pacific market is expected to witness the highest growth.
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Advanced functional composites are the largest market by product type. The market can be further sub segmented into metal matrix composites and fiber reinforced plastics by types. The advanced functional composites can be classified by strengthening mechanism into particle reinforced composite, fiber reinforced composite and dispersion strengthened. The fastest growing segment in advanced functional materials is nano particles, and it is expected to out-perform other functional materials in the foreseeable future.
There are a lot of companies participating in the lucrative market. Some of the big players in advanced functional materials market are 3M Company, Applied Materials, Inc., CNANO Technologies Ltd., Bayer AG, Applied Nanotech Holdings, Inc and Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co., Ltd. among many others.