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History of Indium Corporation and the Development of Indium for Commercial Use

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  • Phil: Jim, I understand Indium Corporation has a really fascinating history. I also understand you have a book that chronicles it.

    Jim: I do. I have a copy here of the second edition of “Indium” by Maria Ludwick, and this copy is for you. (I handed the book to Phil)

    Phil: Well thank you, I appreciate it.

    Jim: You’re welcome.

    Phil: It’s a pretty hefty book. I understand from what you told me, that the book basically details the work of William S. Murray.    What can you tell us about him?

    Jim: William S. Murray was actually a very interesting gentleman who took this material which had been discovered earlier (decades earlier) and needed to use it – wanted to use it – but there was nothing commercially available, so he set out to find a way to refine indium so it could be useful to us. He did the work to find out how we mine it, refine it, how do we get a tangible amount of this – and then he helped find the first applications for it.

    Phil: And, of course, William S. Murray became the founder of Indium Corporation. Very good. Who wrote this book?

    Jim: This was written by Maria Ludwick, who worked with William Murray, and she compiled this book because there were ~20 years of scattered information ‘here and there’, and she wanted to put all of this information in one place. So that’s what became of this book. This book starts out with an introduction – a biography of Indium Corporation and William S Murray, and then after that there are phase diagrams, there are properties of indium, and a lot of information about the first applications and studies.

    Phil: So what were some of the properties that captured William S. Murray’s imagination, and what were some of the early applications which arose from that?

    Jim: Right, well, this book was written around [the time of] World War II, and in that time, one of the applications was to dope bearings (for aircraft) with indium. It formed a self-lubrication for the bearing and made the engines last much, much longer. So that was one of the first applications. You can find information in this book of different tests - soldering to different materials. Common materials like copper, some difficult materials like steel, and then also people were just trying to figure out, would it [indium] solder to a brick, or a seashell?

    Phil: Yeah, I don’t know the last time I tried to solder a seashell to a brick… Yeah – anyway. (I laughed a bit at that point) What can you say – you know – they’re out there! By the way: what happened?

    Jim: Well, you’ll have to read the book!

    Phil: Awe – there we go! Well good. For more information, besides obtaining a copy of this book – and this one’s mine – where can people go to learn more information about the history of Indium Corporation, William S. Murray, and some of the other aspects of the properties and applications?

    Jim: You can always send me an email or give me a call. My email address is jhisert@indium.com, and www.indium.com is a website that’s filled with information about indium. Our Engineers love to talk about it, and would love to talk to our customers about it.

    Phil: Very good. Jim, thank you so much.

    Jim: Thank you Phil.

    By the way: as of the time of this post, Amazon.com has copies “Indium” by Maria Ludwick for about the same price as a few bricks and a handful of seashells!  

    ~Jim