As electronic products become smaller, increasingly complex and more energy efficient, passives components are changing. The trend is toward higher performance with less energy consumption. "The very latest market trends for passive electronic components continue to be primarily driven by end application requirements," says Craig Hunter, director of sales communications at AVX Corp. Those requirements can be very specific. "A very hot topic at the moment is the need to find a new source of energy. As a result, high temperature components which can be used in drill-down drilling equipment and sensors are in demand," says Hunter. "We've launched tantalum capacitors which can operate at 175C and ceramic capacitors with an X8R high temperature dielectric to meet this need."
LEDs are also going through a new evolution to meet the needs of end users as they become smaller, brighter and more energy efficient. There has also been a shift in LED use. While backlighting needs are still pervasive, LEDs are called upon more and more to provide illumination. The need for energy efficiency is also driving the LED market. The U.S. Dept. of Energy says LEDs will more than double the efficiency of lighting systems and thus reduce the nation's energy consumption by $98 billion over the next 20 years.
Capacitors are also going through a transformation. The spike in cell phone sales in recent years is just the beginning of the push for capacitor innovations. Portable devices with multiple functions are showing up in medical and industrial settings. That trend will continue to pressure capacitor manufacturers to produce, smaller, more durable capacitors.
As for the market for passive components, the automotive and medical industries will continue to show a greater appetite, as will handheld devices. The aerospace and medical equipment markets will become increasingly specialized. While these markets gobbled up commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components in the past, they are now turning to high reliability products, since COTS components have shifted to lead-free production and most of the COTS suppliers have shut down their leaded production. Since the military and medical equipment markets insist on the high reliability of lead solder, they are now shifting to hi rel parts to get their lead.