The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increased demand for solar energy and need for advancements to improve solar cell efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as monocrystalline and polycrystalline nanomaterials for solar cells. In the last three years alone, there have been over 439,000 patents filed and granted in the power industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Power: Crystalline nano-materials.

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.

150+ innovations will shape the power industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the power industry using innovation intensity models built on over 83,000 patents, there are 90+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, synchronous multi-phase motors, sea water solar treatment, and synchronous motor cooling systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Hermetic pumps, brushless synchronous motor, and HVAC pumps are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are perovskite photoactive layering and linear motor actuators, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for the power industry

Crystalline nano-materials is a key innovation area in power 

Crystalline nanomaterials are widely used in solar cells. Nanocrystalline materials are single-phase or multiphase polycrystals with ultrafine grain sizes ranging from 1 to 100 nm. For photosensitive light capture, nanocrystal coatings based on silicon, CdTe, or CIGS are applied to substrates.  

GlobalData’s analysis 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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of crystalline nano-materials. 

Key players in crystalline nano-materials – a disruptive innovation in the power 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 crystalline nano-materials

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Nanoco Group 68 Unlock company profile
Samsung SDI 22 Unlock company profile
LG 20 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 18 Unlock company profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 17 Unlock company profile
Showa Denko 13 Unlock company profile
DuPont de Nemours 13 Unlock company profile
LTC 11 Unlock company profile
Hydro-Quebec 10 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 10 Unlock company profile
Dowa Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
PPG Industries 8 Unlock company profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 7 Unlock company profile
Toppan 7 Unlock company profile
Ilika 7 Unlock company profile
Nitto Denko 7 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 7 Unlock company profile
DIC 6 Unlock company profile
Daunia Solar Cell 6 Unlock company profile
China National Petroleum 5 Unlock company profile
Umicore 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Nanoco Group is engaged in the research, development, and manufacturing of heavy-metal-free quantum dots and semiconductor nanoparticles. The company uses cadmium-free quantum dot (CFQD) technology to produce efficient, low-cost and lightweight solar cells as well as it offers enhanced energy efficiency, and seamless integration into existing production processes and enables tunable and high-efficiency lighting. Its products include cadmium-free quantum dots, CFQD quantum dot films, and nanoparticles which offer the potential for display, lighting, solar and biological imaging applications. Nanomaterials produced by Nanoco have the ability to absorb a wide spectrum of the sun’s energy. In November 2010, Nanoco developed a nanomaterial solar ink, which can be printed to form a thin film through techniques developed by Tokyo Electron

In terms of application diversity, Showa Denko, Samsung Group, and LTC are some of the leading patent filers in crystalline nano-materials. Based on geographic reach, LG, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and Hydro-Quebec are some of the leading patent filers in crystalline nano-materials. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the power industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Power.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.