Optoelectronics & Sensor Markets Bounce Back from Decline

Article By : George Leopold

The markets for optoelectronics and other sensors has bounced back, but a sustained recovery depends on the the…

Some electronic component sectors hammered in the earliest days of the pandemic are showing signs of recovery and even modest gains going into an uncertain 2021.

While semiconductor and global wafer fab spending forecasts remain bullish, other sectors like optoelectronics, sensors, and discrete semiconductors have taken a beating the last eight months or so. IC Insights forecasts a 6.5 percent annual decline in the market sector that also includes actuators.

The one bright spot, optoelectronic components, accounts for more than half the segment’s forecast sales for 2020: $82.3 billion. That represents a 4.4 percent annual decline, a bit less than the loss predicted in the spring as the pandemic took hold.

Still, the market tracker concludes things could be worse: Sales have “stabilized, and in some cases, revenues have begun showing signs of a slight recovery in the second half of 2020, which is remarkable considering how bad it looked at the start of 2Q20.”

That rebound has prompted IC Insights to forecast a sales rebound in 2021 despite a new wave of Covid-19 infections sweeping across the U.S. and Europe. Renewed sales of optoelectronics, sensors and discretes are forecast to hit $88.6 billion next year, with optoelectronics again accounting for the lion’s share of global demand.

optoelectronics sensors

However, that forecast comes with a caveat as Covid wildfires spring up on both side of the Atlantic. “The return of lockdowns — even at reduced levels compared to the widespread businesses closures in 2Q20 — could slow the momentum of the tenuous market recovery that began in the summer of 2020,” IC Insights hedged.

Meanwhile, only three of 20 product categories tracked have so far registered gains this year: laser transmitters (+6 percent); actuators (+1.4 percent); and CMOS image sensors (+0.9 percent). Those three product categories are predicted to register record-high sales in 2020.

If the market analyst’s optimistic 2021 forecast holds true, it expects no less than seven product categories to produce record-high revenues. Along with image sensors and laser transmitters, those categories include pressure and magnetic field sensors, accelerometers and actuators.

Even one discrete semiconductor category — power transistors — is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6 percent in 2021, with sales exceeding $17 billion.

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