The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the increasing demand for portable and sustainable power solutions, advancements in battery technology, and the need for environmentally friendly energy storage options, and the growing importance of technologies such as thin-film deposition techniques, solid-state electrolytes, and advanced battery management systems. These technologies enable efficient energy storage, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and contribute to the transition towards a more sustainable and clean energy future. In the last three years alone, there have been over 3.6 million patents filed and granted in the technology industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environmental Sustainability Innovation: Thin-film Batteries. Buy the report here.
However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.
Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.
300+ innovations will shape the technology industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the technology industry using innovation intensity models built on over 2.5 million patents, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, environmental sensors, smart grid monitoring systems, and EV battery management systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Waste management systems, engine exhaust control system and hybrid solar are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are energy trading platforms and EV charging metering automation, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the technology industry
Thin-film batteries is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability
Thin-film batteries are rechargeable batteries that offer a unique combination of thinness, flexibility, and lightweight design, allowing seamless integration into diverse products and materials. Composed of thin layers of materials, such as metal oxides, deposited on substrates such as plastic or glass, these batteries find applications in medical devices, wearables, consumer electronics, and smart cards. Their versatility enables efficient power supply in various industries, contributing to the development of innovative and portable technologies.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 60+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of thin-film batteries.
Key players in thin-film batteries – a disruptive innovation in the technology industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to thin-film batteries
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2022)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|Applied Materials||237||Unlock Company Profile|
|CEA||164||Unlock Company Profile|
|Johnson & Johnson||141||Unlock Company Profile|
|Dyson||113||Unlock Company Profile|
|Nokia||72||Unlock Company Profile|
|International Business Machines (IBM)||70||Unlock Company Profile|
|STMicroelectronics||65||Unlock Company Profile|
|Alphabet||48||Unlock Company Profile|
|Infinite Power Solutions||43||Unlock Company Profile|
|Infineon Technologies||42||Unlock Company Profile|
|Panasonic||32||Unlock Company Profile|
|Murata Manufacturing||29||Unlock Company Profile|
|Robert Bosch Stiftung||29||Unlock Company Profile|
|Apple||28||Unlock Company Profile|
|Carl Zeiss Stiftung||27||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sony Group||25||Unlock Company Profile|
|3M||23||Unlock Company Profile|
|Samsung Group||23||Unlock Company Profile|
|Samsung SDI||22||Unlock Company Profile|
|Cymbet||19||Unlock Company Profile|
|Koninklijke Philips||19||Unlock Company Profile|
|Eastman Kodak||18||Unlock Company Profile|
|Montana Tech Components||17||Unlock Company Profile|
|Tokyo Ohka Kogyo||16||Unlock Company Profile|
|Chatham Asset Management||16||Unlock Company Profile|
|Furukawa||15||Unlock Company Profile|
|Beijing Electronics||14||Unlock Company Profile|
|Emw Energy||14||Unlock Company Profile|
|Imprint Energy||13||Unlock Company Profile|
|Semiconductor Energy Laboratory||13||Unlock Company Profile|
|Micronics Japan||13||Unlock Company Profile|
|Xerox||12||Unlock Company Profile|
|Printed Energy||12||Unlock Company Profile|
|ITEN||12||Unlock Company Profile|
|BAE Systems||11||Unlock Company Profile|
|Swatch Group||10||Unlock Company Profile|
|Flex||10||Unlock Company Profile|
|Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast-Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek||10||Unlock Company Profile|
|Schreiner Group||9||Unlock Company Profile|
|Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique||9||Unlock Company Profile|
|Energizer||9||Unlock Company Profile|
|L3Harris Technologies||9||Unlock Company Profile|
|General Electric||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Saralon||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Motorola Solutions||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Blue Spark Technologies||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Stora Enso||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Guala Technology||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Huawei Investment & Holding||7||Unlock Company Profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Among the companies innovating in thin-film batteries, Applied Materials is a leading patent filer. The company’s patents are aimed at invention describing selective removal of specified layers of thin film structures and devices, such as solar cells, electrochromics, and thin film batteries, by laser direct patterning is achieved by including heat and light blocking layers in the device/structure stack immediately adjacent to the specified layers which are to be removed by laser ablation. The light blocking layer is a layer of metal that absorbs or reflects a portion of the laser energy penetrating through the dielectric/semiconductor layers and the heat blocking layer is a conductive layer with thermal diffusivity low enough to reduce heat flow into underlying metal layer(s), such that the temperature of the underlying metal layer(s) does not reach the melting temperature, Tm, or in some embodiments does not reach (Tm)/3, of the underlying metal layer(s) during laser direct patterning.
The other prominent patent filers in the space include CEA and Dyson Holdings.
In terms of geographical reach, Emw Energy leads the pack, followed by The Swatch Group and Energizer Holdings. In terms of application diversity, Stora Enso holds the top position, followed by Flex and Renesas Electronics.
Thin-film batteries have revolutionised the energy storage industry by providing a greener and more efficient alternative. Thin-film batteries are designed to be lightweight, flexible, and eco-friendly, making them ideal for applications in renewable energy systems, electric vehicles, and portable electronics. These batteries use environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing processes, reducing their ecological footprint.
To further understand how environmental sustainability is disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Sustainability – Thematic Research.