The global rubidium market size was estimated at 2,570 kilograms in 2021. It is expected to reach 3,755 kilograms by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 4.3% during the forecast period (2022–2030). Rubidium salts find application in the biomedical industry. Rubidium is known to possess the antibacterial ability and can promote osteoblasts proliferation and differentiation, which is related to bone marrow stromal cells of the human body. Rubidium salts are used in antishock agents to treat epilepsy and thyroid disorders. Rubidium-82 is a radioactive isotope used as a blood-flow tracer in positron emission tomographic imaging. A positron emission tomographic (PET) scan is used for adults to help diagnose heart disease. Rubidium chloride finds application as an antidepressant. The compounds of Rubidium are used in biomedical research. Nanoscale hydroxyapatite particles doped with different contents of Rubidium and prepared with the hydrothermal method are promising materials for biomedical applications. Rubidium-87 isotope finds application in magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging for analysis.
Anxiolytic agents are a type of antidepressant that is used to treat anxiety. According to the Organization for Cooperation and Development (OECD), the consumption of anxiolytic drugs in 2020 in Portugal was 84.8 defined daily dosages per 100,000, the highest amount in Europe. This consumption figure was followed by Spain, i.e., 57.9 daily dosages per 100,000. The increasing consumption of anxiolytic drugs and antidepressants will likely increase the demand for Rubidium.
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Germany is one of the most developed healthcare markets in the world. The biopharmaceutical share in Germany in 2019 was EUR 12.7 billion, and in July 2020, over 40 biopharmaceutical products and medicines were in development. The increasing production of bio-medical drugs is expected to impact the rubidium market's growth positively.
Annual antidepressant (AD) prescribing in the United Kingdom has doubled over the past 15 years. Over 12 months between 2017 and 2018, 7.3 million adults (17% of the adult population) were prescribed ADs in England alone; the number increased in 2019 and 2020. The rates for women, older people, and people living in deprived areas were even higher. The increasing prescriptions of antidepressants are expected to increase the application of Rubidium in biomedical applications. Therefore, the factors mentioned above are expected to boost the application of Rubidium in the biomedical sector.
Specialty glasses, the largest market for Rubidium, are utilized in night vision equipment and fiber optic telecommunications systems. Rubidium's photo emissive properties lead to its application in night-vision devices, photoelectric cells, and photomultiplier tubes. Rubidium carbonate is applied in glass lenses and built-in night vision devices. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), investments worth USD 144.2 billion were made between 2019 and 2020 related to fiber infrastructure.
Some primary drivers for this immense capital investment into fiber infrastructure include 5G radios, 5G wireless, and wired telecommunication systems. The increased adoption of 4G LTE and LTE-Advanced mobile network technology accelerates fiber telecommunication upgrades, positively impacting specialty glasses' production. This will further be leveraged by future 5G networks, considering the excellent bandwidth offered by fiber optic telecommunication systems.
The usage of fiber optics telecommunication systems has been increasing, with increasing technologies and viability of 5G network globally. The globally growing application accounts for the technology is scalable, secure, understood, and cost-effective. The increasing application of fiber optic telecommunication systems is expected to enhance the specialty glasses market, thus, driving the rubidium market over the coming years.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to the imposition of a travel ban and shutdown of manufacturing units, offices, and marketplaces by governments all over the world, resulting in very little to no economic activity and also disrupted the value chain throughout the globe, which adversely affected installation activities of telecommunication systems for a short period.
The pandemic has had a negative impact on biomedical research and hampered new developments in biopharmaceutical technology. Since Rubidium is used in the biomedical industry, the closure of many laboratories, restricted or lost access to facilities and equipment, cancellation of scientific and technical conferences, supply chain disruptions, difficulties acquiring new equipment, and delayed or uncertain graduation schedules and career prospects for trainees and early career scientists all contributed to high delay and loss.
Reliance on precise frequency and timing, due to the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) enabling 5G communication networks, led to the development of smaller size and high-performance atomic clock technology that has become essential to support both military and commercial applications.
Atomic clocks made of Rubidium are light, thin, and cheap to construct. They are also utilized in various military functions, including command and control, telemetry, navigation, secure communications, and electronic warfare. Additionally, they are employed in scientific research, precision spectroscopy, relativity tests, and studies of variations in the fine-structure constant. Researchers and industrialists say that producing such clocks is relatively simple and inexpensive.
Microchip's next generation, MAC-SA5X, miniaturized a rubidium atomic clock that produces a stable time and frequency reference that maintains a high degree of synchronization to a reference clock, such as a GNSS-derived signal. Being the world leader in the research, development, and manufacturing of atomic clocks, Microchip has delivered more than 275,000 rubidium clocks across the globe. Therefore, due to their superior technology and advantages, rubidium atomic clocks are gaining considerable significance in the market.
The global rubidium market share is segmented by the production process, application, and region.
Production process-wise, the global rubidium market is segmented into Lepidolite, Pollucite, and Others.
The Lepidolite segment accounts for the largest market share and is expected to register the highest CAGR of 4.8% during the forecast period. Rubidium is an alkali metal whose occurrence is not independent. Rubidium occurs in the minerals pollucite, carnallite, leucite, and lepidolite. It is recovered commercially from lepidolite as a byproduct of lithium extraction. Rubidium is not a significant constituent of any mineral. Rubidium concentrate is produced as a byproduct of lepidolite (lithium) mining. These ores are found, often together, in just a few zoned pegmatites around the world and are mined on a small scale by a selective method. Lepidolite (K(Li, Al, Rb)2 (Al, Si)4O10(F, OH)2 is a precious multi-metal resource is a lithium mica containing other elements and Rubidium, cesium, and potassium. Lepidolite concentrates are increasingly used to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate, driving the segment’s growth.
Application-wise, the global rubidium market is segmented into Biomedical Research, Electronics, Specialty Glass, Pyrotechnics, and Others.
The Biomedical Research segment accounts for the largest market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.4% during the forecast period. The primary use of radioactive Rubidium is perfusion imaging in the myocardium. The changes occur in the blood-brain barrier. This affects the tumor cells in the brain. Rubidium collects more in brain tumors than normal brain tissue, allowing radioisotope rubidium in nuclear medicine to locate and image brain tumors. Rubidium iodide (RbI) has sometimes been substituted for potassium iodide (KI) in treating enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter). Rubidium salts have been used as antishock agents following the administration of arsenical drugs. All the advantages mentioned above are expected to propel the demand for Rubidium in Biomedical applications.
Specialty Glass is the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period. Specialty glasses are utilized in night vision equipment and fiber optic telecommunications systems. These glasses contain carbonate (Rb2CO3) as an addition, lowering electrical conductivity and increasing stability and durability. Utilizing rubidium carbonate helps fiber optic telecommunications networks be more stable and long-lasting by reducing electrical conductivity. Photoelectric cells, used in various electrical detection and activation devices, have a rubidium-tellurium photo emissive surface. It is sensitive to a broad spectrum of radiation from the mid-ultraviolet through the visible into the near-infrared. Rubidium carbonate is also applied in glass lenses and built-in night vision devices. All such advantage of Rubidium is also increasing their application in Specialty Glass.
Electronics is the third-largest segment. Rubidium, which is sometimes used interchangeably with cesium, has been used to make a new kind of atomic clock, the so-called fountain clock, which, with further development, is expected to achieve an accuracy of 1 part in 1016, which is better than the best timekeeping yet attained. The resonant frequency of the 87Rb atom is used as the reference frequency in frequency standards and oscillators used in radio and television transmitters, for telecommunications network synchronization, and satellite navigation and communication. All the above advantages are expected to propel the demand for Rubidium in Electronic applications.
Region-wise, the global rubidium market share is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
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North America accounts for the largest share and is expected to register the highest CAGR of 5% during the forecast period. Canada has the highest rubidium reserves in the North American region. According to the US Geological Survey January 2020 report, the country had roughly 12,000 tons of rubidium reserves. Furthermore, the electronics industry represents one of the largest manufacturing industries in Canada. The region has around 2,000 electronics manufacturing-related firms. The Canadian consumer electronics industry experienced growth and grabbed new opportunities in the essential product category, as consumers in the country value new product innovations. The improved network connectivity in this region drives this industrial development.
Europe is the second-largest region and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 3.9% during the forecast period. In Europe, Germany has a significant amount of rubidium reserves. It is the leading producer of rubidium salt in the world. Chemetall, a German business, imports pollus garnet from Canada and Zimbabwe to extract Rubidium and cesium. It has also imported lepidolite from Jiangxi, China, in recent years. The mother liquor obtained after extracting lithium is utilized as a raw material for manufacturing rubidium and cesium compounds. Germany has the most significant healthcare market in all of Europe. The nation spends more than EUR 375 billion annually on health. The government has been investing in mobile healthcare facilities due to demographic shifts and digitalization, which creates a foundation for the growth of the German healthcare industry. The increasing application in the healthcare equipment and electronics industry is expected to provide opportunities in the future.
Asia-Pacific is the third-largest region. China has Asia-Pacific's largest rubidium ore deposits, mainly used in the electronics and medical industry. In 2018, a considerable rubidium ore deposit was discovered in Guangdong Province, South China. The Mining Association of Guangdong Province announced the discovery of a 175,000-ton rubidium ore deposit in Heyuan City. The China Mining Association announced this is the world's first verified pure rubidium ore discovery. Previously, Rubidium was only extracted in association with other minerals. China's rubidium resources are primarily byproducts of metal manufacturing, such as solid pollucite and lepidolite.
Furthermore, China is the most extensive base for electronics production in the world. The country serves not only domestic demand for electronics but also exports electronic output to other countries and is a leading manufacturer of PCB in the world. The US-China trade war and the threat that Chinese firms may be cut off from US technology are boosting China's push for the growth of the electronics manufacturing sector in the country, which in turn drive the market for Rubidium.