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Atomic spectroscopy: x-ray leads the market.

Overall, the market for atomic spectroscopy instruments is stable and expected to grow a solid 5% in 2006, similar to recent years. Within this $2 billion market, however, there are many important differences among various product segments. In particular, environmental regulations are having an important effect on the relative strength of the different spectroscopic methods. In addition to application-based market forces, the expanding markets in China and India are providing shifts in the geographical demand of which suppliers are trying to make the most.

One of the smaller market segments is inductively-coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), a technique that provides the best sensitivity for many applications. This technique is poised to make significant gains in the next year, due largely to increased demand from environmental testing applications. In both the US and other industrialized nations, restrictions on certain heavy metal contaminants in water (notably arsenic) make ICP-MS a more attractive multi-element measurement method. Later this month, the US EPA will withdraw approval for optical emission spectroscopy (ICP) as a method for measuring arsenic, leaving atomic absorption (AA) and ICP-MS as the only approved methods. Other sources of demand for ICP-MS are in testing of ultrapure water in the pharmaceutical and semiconductor industries.

Although the change in the arsenic rule will have a negative impact on ICP, ICP is still approved for a great many other environmental applications for the testing of both water and petrochemical fuels. These and other stable applications should support growth in the market of about 3.1%. This makes ICP the slowest growing market within atomic spectroscopy, with the exception of AA, which is forecast to grow at a sluggish 1.6%. AA is one of the most mature technologies in the analytical instrumentation industry. Prices are falling, and it is only due to increased demand from developing global markets and the introduction of workflow enhancing products, such as autosamplers, that any growth will be experienced in this market at all.

The other bright spot in atomic spectroscopy is in the x-ray technologies, x-ray diffraction (XRD) and x-ray fluorescence (XRF). These techniques are respectively forecast to grow 7.0% and 6.7% in 2006. Despite the similarity in growth rates, the causes are quite dissimilar. Although it has important applications in materials science and fatigue testing of metals, XRD is the atomic spectroscopy technique with the most connection to pharmaceutical research. Using single-crystal XRD, pharmaceutical scientists can determine the structure of pharmaceutical molecules and proteins, as well as monitor the changes in structure and phase that result from the application of heat. These life science applications form a strong source of growing demand for XRD.

XRF remains much closer to its material characterization roots. The main driver of growth in this market is, again, environmental regulation. Perhaps the most significant is the EU's Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) rule limiting cadmium, lead, mercury and a few other chemical species in electronic components. Compliance with RottS will become mandatory in July 2006. Semiconductor and electronics manufacturers are finding XRF an extremely valuable tool in verifying compliance, although ICP and AA also have roles to play.

The elemental analyzer market is something of a catch-all term that covers total organic carbon (TOC), mercury analyzers, as well as other organic and inorganic analyzers. The TOC market continues to experience low double-digit growth, with strong sources of demand from applications ranging from drinking water to semiconductors to pharmaceuticals. Mercury analyzers will get a boost from the RoHS regulations. Other inorganic analyzers will continue to benefit from increased steel production in Asia. Overall, elemental analyzers are forecast to grow at 6.3% for 2006.
2005 Atomic Spectroscopy Market by Product Type

Initial Systems 72%
After-market 14%
Service 14%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

2005 Atomic Spectroscopy Supplier Market Shares

PerkinElmer 15%
Thermo Electron 13%
Spectris (PANalytical) 7%
Bruker AXS 6%
Rigaku 5%
Others 54%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

2004-07 Total Atomic Spectroscopy Market


2004 1993
2005 2093
2006 2198
2007 2311

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Atomic Spectroscopy 2005-06

 Market Share Growth Rate

XRF 21.1% 6.7%
AA 17.5% 1.3%
ICP 15.1% 3.1%
Elemental Analyzers 13.1% 6.3%
XRD 13.1% 7.0%
ICP-MS 11.0% 7.6%
Arc-Spark 9.0% 4.2%
Total 100.0% 5.0%

Atomic Spectroscopy Market Leaders

XRF PANalytical (Spectris), Thermo Electron
AA PerkinElmer, Varian
ICP PerkinElmer, Varian
Elemental Analyzers LECO, Horiba
XRD PANalytical (Spectris), Bruker BioSciences
ICP-MS PerkinElmer, Thermo Electron
Arc-Spark Spectro Analytical (Ametek), Thermo
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Publication:Instrument Business Outlook
Date:Jan 15, 2006
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