Adaptive optics (AO) is a technology integrated with the optical systems for advanced imaging and microscopy. These technologies are used to enhance an optical system's output by reducing distortion effects by incoming wavefronts. The setup finds significant application in retinal imaging, laser communication, and biological research, among others. The application ecosystem contains three main components: wavefront sensors, control systems, and wavefront modulators. Furthermore, adaptive optics solutions support the user in obtaining the subject's finer details through magnified and advanced imaging.
The global adaptive optics market was valued at USD 378.69 million in 2019 and is expected to grow at 31.2 % CAGR during the forecast period.
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In recent years, the application of adaptive optics to reduce optical aberrations in medical sciences, such as ophthalmology and retinal imaging, has increased market demand. Different companies such as Iris AO Inc., offer their AO systems designed explicitly for ophthalmology and retinal imaging with the increasing demand for adaptive optics. For example, Iris AO DMs are being used for retinal imaging by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Owing to the various applications that AO finds in varied domains, companies have been sourcing significant R&D towards developing better and innovative products.
Besides, the use of AO systems in military and defense applications such as satellite imaging, optical free-space communication, and laser weapons, among others, has gained considerable popularity, which is also driving the market growth. Through collaborating with different defense agencies, companies such as Boston Micro Machine Corporation provide AO systems, which has given the market a significant boost.
Researchers have found adaptive optics systems' applications across many industries, including high-end manufacturing microscopes and various spectroscopy techniques. In May 2019, researchers at the U.S. National Eye Institute researched to capture mosaic patterns created by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in humans using vivo fluorescence ophthalmoscopy coupled with adaptive optics (AO). This has fueled the demand for AO powered imaging ecosystems that would enable better research insights. This has driven the market to grow further.
Moreover, many government organizations have adopted these powerful techniques that have further boosted the global market. For instance, government organization, such as European Southern Observatory (ESO), has a dedicated AO department that provides adaptive optics observing capabilities to overcome atmospheric turbulence limitation in ordinary telescopes.
The wavefront sensors segment held the largest chunk of the market by components. Moreover, the market for these sensors is expected to grow at the highest rate among others in the market during the forecast period. These sensors find usage in various adaptive optics applications across different domains. For example, wavefront sensors monitor laser beam shape and size for many laser applications, such as laser beam diagnostics and laser material processing, to improve precision.
Similarly, wavefront sensing can be used in microscopic imaging of biological samples and tissues. The use of adaptive optics to correct light distortions aims to improve the image quality of dense biological tissues dramatically. As they are packed with optical inhomogeneities that degrade image quality, these sensors address an age-old issue of biological specimen imaging.
The Biological research and imaging sector have witnessed great advancements due to the advent of powerful imaging techniques. Besides, comprehensive research on adaptive optics applications in healthcare continues to be performed at universities and research laboratories worldwide. The Institute of Optics, University of Rochester (U.S.), for example, began by researching the potential for the application of adaptive optics in ophthalmology and correcting most of the aberrations of the eye to picture the living human eye at high resolution and a range of universities have come up with the trend of investing resources to research adaptive optics applications.
However, in the case of biological specimens, ' indirect means are used to measure aberrations since wavefront sensors cannot directly be inserted into the specimens. Thus, this fuels further research on the same contributing significantly to the steady growth rate.
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The North American region holds the largest share of the global market. Market dominance can be attributed to recognizing the extensive application scope of adaptive optics in various industries. The increasing demands for better technologies from the biomedical and astronomical applications have led to the growth of adaptive optics in the region. Due to continuous developments in optics and related technologies in North America, countries such as the US and Canada are taking the biggest market share. The early adopters of adaptive optics technologies in North America and internationally are believed to be these countries. Besides, the healthcare sector is progressing rapidly in the United States, and optics in healthcare applications have also increased.
Furthermore, policymakers and state and federal governments in these countries have recognized the need for effective optical solutions to support the different industrial verticals operating in this sector, which can be reasoned for the market dominance globally.
In embracing adaptive optics technologies, Europe closely approaches North America.In Europe, several companies invest and collaborate with leading optics companies in order to provide an integrated solution with their product line-up.Adaptive optics offer future prospects for different European businesses, industries and governments. For instance, a number of advancements have been reported by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which represents the government interest and on extension, numerous opportunity pockets for market key players in this region.