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Slower Growth Forecast for Optical Microscopes

Photonics Spectra
Feb 2005
Indications are that optical microscopes are giving way to nonoptical instruments, according to Business Communications Co. Inc. of Norwalk, Conn.

Photonics Spectra editors

You can’t fight physics. Despite the continued and great advances made in optical microscopy over the more than 300 years since Antonie van Leeuwenhoek first presented his observations of bacteria in the Royal Society of England’s Philosophical Transactions, it was only a matter of time before applications demanded resolutions fundamentally beyond that which light-based systems can offer. Indications are that optical microscopes are giving way to alternative, nonoptical instruments, according to Business Communications Co. Inc. of Norwalk, Conn.

The research firm’s current report on the microscopy market, “RGB-312 Microscopy,” forecasts that optical microscopes will post a modest average annual growth rate of 5.9 percent in the period from 2004 to 2009, compared with 11 percent for all types of microscopes and their accessories and supplies. As a result, optical instruments are expected to lose ground in the global microscopy market, with their share falling from 32 percent in 2004 to 25.3 percent in 2009. The market is predicted to grow from $1.65 billion to $2.77 billion during that time.

MicroscopyFeat_Market.jpg

The average annual growth rate of optical microscopes is expected to be less than that of competing technologies in the near term, as optical microscopes fall from 32 percent of the total microscopy market in 2004 to 25.3 percent in 2009. “Other” microscopes — inverted, reflecting and near-field scanning — are forecast to experience the highest growth rate of optical microscopes as a result of their continued use in infrared spectrometry and in life sciences research and development. Source: Business Communications Co. Inc.

The company premises its projections on the growing need — especially in nanotechnology and semiconductor manufacturing — for microscopy systems that offer higher resolutions than optical instruments can offer. As a result of expected growth in these end-user markets, global sales of electron and other charged-particle microscopes are forecast to display an average annual growth rate of 13 percent and to increase their market share from 43.8 percent in 2004 to 47.9 percent in 2009. Similarly, the market share of nonoptical scanning probe microscopes is predicted to rise from 10.3 percent to 15.2 percent at an average annual rate of 20 percent.

Sales of optical microscopes also are tied to the anticipated increase in end-user markets. Inverted, reflecting and near-field scanning microscopes are projected to post annual growth of 7.8 percent, from sales of $182.7 million in 2004 to $265.4 million in 2009, owing to their use in applications such as infrared spectrometry and life sciences research and development. Stereoscopic and upright microscopes, in contrast, with end-user markets in education and in life and materials sciences, are expected to witness slower growth. Global sales of stereoscopic microscopes are forecast to increase at an annual rate of 5.8 percent from $231.7 million in 2004 to $307.3 million in 2009, and those of upright instruments at only 2.8 percent from $112.6 million to $129.2 million during that period.

“RGB-312 Microscopy,” published in December, is available from Business Communications.


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