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Top 10 Technology Keywords of 2022

Although global uncertainty abounds, technological advancements continue. From robotic surgeons to smart devices and autonomous vehicles, everywhere we look, we find evidence of life-changing, cutting-edge technologies. 

Rapidly growing technologies often indicate upcoming breakthroughs and major advancements, highlighting the fastest-advancing frontiers of human innovation. This information can serve as a launchpad for ambitious innovators seeking to venture into new territories, make new discoveries, or drive future growth. 

To get a better understanding of the key technologies paving the way forward, we used our innovation intelligence platform to analyze over 600,000 technology fields. This enabled us to identify the fastest-growing sectors. These fields are technology labels created by PatSnap, based on the AI deep learning and processing of 170 million patents worldwide. We also included evaluations and analyses from external professional institutions to supplement and refine our findings.  

The result is this in-depth article, which we hope serves as a useful tool for anyone looking to gain a more comprehensive overview of global technology trends.  

2022 Technology Keyword Snapshot:  

Top Technology Keyword #1: Privacy Computing 

In 2022, interest in privacy computing exploded. A total of 455 new technological innovations were produced, representing a year-over-year (YoY) growth rate of 309.9%. Innovators focused mostly on privacy computing and blockchain, which is likely to be a primary area of interest moving forward.  

Top Technology Keyword #2: Digital Twin

In 2022, the digital twin sector noted YoY growth as high as 205.3%. Breakthroughs emerged in model building, simulation, and sensors. 

PatSnap Discovery chart showing the academic literature trends of digital twin technology.
PatSnap Discovery graph showcasing the academic literature trends of digital twin tech

China, the US, and the EU were the three major sources of digital twin technological achievements in 2022. 70% of the patents came from China, representing a 10% increase from 2021. Patent activity in the US and EU dropped by five percent and 1 percent respectively, compared to the previous year. Major players include Siemens, State Grid, and IBM.  

Top Technology Keyword #3: Nanozymes

Since Xiyun Yan, a Chinese scientist, first discovered that Fe3O4 nanoparticles have peroxidase-like activity, hundreds of different nanozymes have been developed successively, replacing natural enzymes to be widely utilized in biomedicine, environmental engineering, detecting and sensing, and beyond.  

In conjunction with the development of nanotechnology, biotechnology, catalysis science, computational design, and theoretical calculation, the research and development of nanozymes has rapidly accelerated.  

Top technology keywords in the Nanozyme sector
Top technology keywords in the Nanozyme sector

In 2022, there were in total 351 patents filed related to nanozymes, representing a 137.8% growth rate compared to the previous year. What’s more, researchers explored and improved the application of nanozymes in instant diagnosis, inspection and detection, elimination of reactive oxygen and nitrogen, and water pollution treatment.  

Top Technology Keyword #4: Sodium-ion Battery 

After a decline in R&D activity from 2020 to 2021, innovation within the sodium-ion battery sector noted a massive uptick in 2022, with 134.5% YoY growth.  

For a long time, sodium-ion batteries remained in the laboratory, with universities promoting the research and development. However, in 2022 many enterprises hopped aboard the alternative energy train.  

Global battery giant CATL, and its subsidiary Bangpu Cycle, submitted a total of 160 patent applications in 2022, surpassing all of the universities and becoming the largest contributor in 2022. Meanwhile, EVE Energy, Zhongbi Power, and SVOLT Energy also increased their patent activity, submitting a total of 20 applications in 2022.  

Key players in the sodium-ion battery space based on number of patent applications from China, the UK, and the US.
Top players in the sodium-ion battery space in China, the UK & the US

In terms of R&D focus, innovators are turning their attention to improving electrochemical performance. And they’re on the verge of a breakthrough. By the end of this year, it’s likely we’ll witness the first mass production of sodium-ion batteries.  

Top Technology Keyword #5: Battery Swapping Station

Long charge times (of an hour or more), act as a deterrent for many potential electric vehicle (EV) customers. To combat this inconvenience, R&D related to battery swapping stations (BSS) is increasing.  

Academic literature trends related to battery swapping and battery swapping stations 
Academic literature trends related to battery swapping and battery swapping stations 

These stations allow EV owners to rapidly exchange their empty battery with one that is fully charged. The entire process takes about three to five minutes, similar to filling up at a gas station. As such, battery swapping stations represent an industry game changer.  

In 2022, 2,295 new BSS patents were filed, representing a YoY growth rate of 96.8%. In particular, innovators are focusing on battery packs and swapping equipment.  

Top Technology Keyword #6: Silicon Photonic Chip

Silicon photonic chips use photons instead of electrons as the transmission medium, which increases the communication speed by 1000%. Although silicon photonic chips are still in the early stages of industrialization, this technology offers a way past Moore’s Law.  

PatSnap image showcasing the technologic evolution of silicon photonic chips
This image showcases the technological evolution of silicon photonic chips. The keywords represent the technology topics that are the focus of R&D in each application year.  

Over the past year, tech companies worldwide filed 976 new silicon photonic chip patents, with a YoY growth rate of 81.4%. These developments focused on key manufacturing processes with optical modules, optical signals, lasers, and couplers, among other things.  

Top Technology Keyword #7: Graphdiyne

Graphdiyne is known as the most stable artificially-synthesized carbon allotrope. Due to its special electronic structure and excellent semiconducting property, it has the potential to transform industries including semiconductors, new energy, and life sciences. It’s often hailed as “The Miracle Material of the Next Generation.” 

In 2022, 265 new patents were filed, representing a YoY growth rate of 79.1%. Most R&D focused on the application of graphdiyne. Patents involving lithium-ion batteries and semiconductor-related applications accounted for 32% of the applications filed.  

Top Technology Keyword #8: Brain-Computer Interface

Brain-computer interface (BCI) technology is expected to help connected users control their external world, via their minds, without using traditional neuromuscular pathways. Although it might sound like something out of a Sci-Fi movie, BCI technology is a plausible future reality.  

Over the past year, 624 new patents were filed, representing a 76.8% uptick from 2021 to 2022. China, the US, and South Korea were the top three filers, owning 90% of the patents filed over the past two consecutive years.  

Top Technology Keyword #9: Quantum Communication

Quantum communication is a popular, promising sector within the quantum technology field. It provides a secure, discreet way to communicate without the risk of breaches or potential eavesdropping. Currently, quantum communication can be divided into quantum teleportation technology based on quantum entanglement, quantum key distribution technology based on quantum superposition, and so forth. 

In 2022, 1,207 patents were filed related to quantum communication, representing a YoY growth rate of 72.4%. Quantum key distribution was the key area of focus in 2022, accounting for about 33% of the patent applications, whereas quantum teleportation is still in the theoretical and experimental stages.

PatSnap Discovery chart showcasing the quantum key distribution patent filing trends 
PatSnap Discovery chart showcasing the quantum key distribution patent filing trends 

China, the US, and the UK accounted for 85% of the patent filings. The UK, in particular, saw explosive growth — with a 145% YoY growth rate.  

Top Technology Keyword #10: Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology is a cutting-edge branch of life science. It involves designing, transforming, and even resynthesizing living organisms. The goal is to engineer these organisms to have new abilities, and thus solve problems related to healthcare, agriculture, and manufacturing.  

The fastest-growing market sectors within the synthetic biology market are Agricultural Biotechnology and Food Biotechnology.
The fastest-growing market sectors within the synthetic biology market are Agricultural Biotechnology and Food Biotechnology.  

In 2022, 506 new patents were filed, representing a YoY growth rate of 71.5%. The primary research focal areas included the forming of model microorganisms, such as Escherichia coli, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Bacillus lysine, and Bacillus subtilis. The transformation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae into synthesize vinblastine, an anti-cancer drug component, was a particularly notable breakthrough.  

Synthetic biology is still in the early stages of commercialization, which is why scientific research institutions are the main source of technological outputs. The leading institutions include MIT, the University of California, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, RITE, and CNRS. That said, enterprises are entering this field, with companies like Inbiose, a top Belgian biotech, patenting new innovations. And in China, emerging tech companies such as Synceres Biosciences, Bluepha, and Zhongkeling Carbon Biotechnology, began to develop technology in application scenarios like agriculture, materials, and new energy. 

To learn more about the trending technology keywords influencing the future of innovation, try Eureka, our AI-powered platform made for R&D.