SPIE Reports that 2020 Optics, Photonics Industry Revenues Exceeded $300B

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SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has released its biennial industry report. The most notable of the updated report’s multiple takeaways is that the photonics industry has seen substantial growth in all three of the metrics SPIE tracks: number of companies, revenues, and industry jobs.

The society reported that global annual revenues from the production of optics and photonics core components, for example, exceeded $300 billion for the first time in 2020, after climbing at a CAGR of greater than 6.5% since SPIE started tracking the numbers in 2012. Specifically, industry revenues are anticipated to reach between $309 billion and $325 billion this year.

In a broader context, according to the report, the value of light-enabled products and services is estimated to be between $7 trillion and $10 trillion annually. This means the science and application of light represents roughly 11% of the world’s economy, the report said.

Meanwhile, the number of companies engaged in the production of photonics components grew from nearly 4300 in 2018 to 4842 in 2020. Those companies operate in 50 countries and generate 1.2 million jobs — nearly 125,000 more jobs than SPIE logged in 2018.

SPIE’s report provides an in-depth assessment of the global ecosystem of core photonics components manufacturing, the companies involved, where they are based, their revenues, and the number of jobs created globally by optics and photonics components production. It also highlights key industry trends and estimates of the photonics industry’s value to downstream markets.

In its report, SPIE tracks 10 major “photonics-enabled” or end-use market segments: consumer, defense, biomedical, photovoltaics, displays, lighting, sensing, advanced manufacturing, communications, and semiconductor processing. Each segment produces products based on photonics technologies that address different markets.

The production of photonics-enabled products generates over 5 million jobs worldwide. Much of the growth in the photonics components market has occurred in Asia, where more than half of all photonics components producers are now located. China now employs the largest number of people in the photonics components industry, SPIE said.

In 2012, total revenues from these end-use markets totaled $1.5 trillion, according to SPIE. The society’s most recent review valued the 2021 photonics-enabled marketplace at $2.1 trillion, which represents an increase of 40% over the nine-year period and a CAGR of 3.9%.

Among individual markets, consumer, defense, and biomedical generated the highest revenue totals, combining for around 66% of the $2.1 trillion totals. The top four growth segments based on CAGRs between 2019 and 2021 were displays; sensing, including monitoring and control; photovoltaics; and semiconductor processing.

The report indicated that demand for equipment is expected to continue with the passage of legislation, such as the CHIPS and Science Act and the European Chips Act of 2022.

The Industry Report 2022 is available at

Published: September 2022
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