June 19, 2017: Synthetic Sapphire is aluminum oxide and is also known as Corundum or – alumina. It is chemically inert, hard, thermally stable till 1600 C and has a melting temperature of 2050 C. Manufactured from high purity alumina (>99.99% purity) by one of the five methods namely Verneuil, Czochralski (CZ), Heat Exchanger Method (HEM), Edge-Defined Film-Fed Growth (EFG) and Kyropoulos, where EFG and Kyropoulos methods are most popular and are mostly modified in-house to increase the yield. Synthetic sapphire on hardness scale (Mohs) stands on 9 which is the next hardest material after diamond and possesses excellent physical and chemical properties. The wear and scratch resistance of synthetic sapphire is considered to be unique. The sapphire crystal boule undergoes series of processing steps such as drilling, slicing, grinding, polishing and cleaning to get the final synthetic sapphire in required form.
Demand of sapphire products is expected to grow beyond LED as its primary application since sapphire growers are researching new applications which are under developing phase. This is because sapphire being an anisotropic material, which makes its mechanical and thermal properties to depend on the direction of crystal growth and its subsequent processing. Thus, the exceptional mix of properties makes sapphire an ideal material for LED manufacturing and as a semiconductor. Also, when compared to other optical materials, sapphire has superior level of radiation stability and thus a demand from various industrial sectors is strong. Attributes such as government policies and regulations for preferring LED lighting over incandescent and CFL, and a high demand from semiconductor industries are the factors responsible for growing demand of synthetic sapphires globally.
Display application segment is anticipated to register the fastest growth due to growing market for smart watches, premium watches, smart phone covers, and camera lenses. The sapphire substrates in LED is a matured market, wherein substrates of 6” and more diameter are at a growth phase. Moreover, favourable taxation policies of governments across the world are also anticipated to support the growth of overall synthetic sapphire demand during the forecast period. The display segment is slated to register a CAGR of around 10.5% in terms of value over the forecast period.
Asia Pacific accounted for the largest value share of the global synthetic sapphire market in 2016, and is anticipated to increase at a CAGR of 8.6% over the forecast period in value terms. Sales of synthetic sapphires in China is projected to increase by 1.8X between 2016 and 2024. In terms of value and volume, Asia Pacific is anticipated to register highest growth followed by Europe over the forecast period.