Magnetic sensor market sees boost from green technology

The market for semiconductor magnetic sensors used in industrial and medical applications grew by 6% last year, with the help of energy efficiency initiatives, according to a market tracker report from IHS. Revenue in 2011 for industrial and medical magnetic sensors amounted to…

The market for semiconductor magnetic sensors used in industrial and medical applications grew by 6% last year, with the help of energy efficiency initiatives, according to a market tracker report from IHS.

Revenue in 2011 for industrial and medical magnetic sensors amounted to $118.2m, up from $111.9m in 2010.

“Although revenue in this segment is small compared to other magnetic sensor areas like automotive and wireless-consumer, the industrial and medical categories will fuel continued expansion for the sensors in the years to come,” said the analyst.

By 2016, revenue for this particular magnetic sensor segment is forecast to climb to $175.5m, equivalent to a five-year compound annual growth rate of 8%, according to the report.

“In the industrial market, a main growth driver for magnetic sensors is renewable energy, such as solar installations, and to a smaller extent, wind turbines,” said Richard Dixon, principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS.

The semiconductor magnetic sensor market consists of Hall-effect and magneto-resistive semiconductor ICs that are used to track rotational speed and linear angles in machines and devices, or to detect and process magnetic fields to establish positioning.

For the industrial and medical applications in particular, the sensors are utilized in motors in order to improve their energy efficiency. Sensors also are present in a range of medical devices in which some form of motor control is involved, such as pumps.

Last year 70% of revenues were from industrial applications, with medical uses accounting for the remaining 30%.

Examples of motors in which magnetic sensors are used include low-voltage AC and DC motors, three-phase inductive motors, stepper- and servo-type motors, single-phase motors and compact motor drives.

Magnetic sensor use in medical applications can be found mostly in medical devices using commutation sensors for motor control, in applications such as ventilator machines; infusion, insulin and syringe pumps; or kidney dialysis machines.

Semiconductor suppliers of Hall-effect ICs include Asahi Kasei Microsystems of Japan, US-based Allegro MicroSystems, Melexis of Belgium, Micronas of Switzerland and LEM.