Indium metal has played a key role in technology advances since it was first investigated by Dr. William S. Murray in 1924 in Utica, NY, and with the creation of the Indium Corporation in 1934, the two have been tied together, leading, and supporting the advancement of technologies that we all rely on today.
Indium metal is extracted primarily from indium-bearing zinc or tin ores and purified to various grades utilizing state-of-the-art statistical process controlled refining technologies.
Indium Corporation produces and refines indium in the USA, Korea, and China.
No other metal is as versatile as indium metal. In its various forms it is used for:
- Sealing in cryogenic applications - stays malleable and ductile below -150°C
- Soldering or fusing applications - alloys melt at temperatures ranging from 6.5°C to 310°C
- High-end device cooling - reduces operating temperatures by up to 10°C
In addition to its metallic properties, indium also exhibits valuable semiconducting properties. For instance, indium is used:
- As an absorber layer material in solar panels - to convert photons from the sun into usable electricity.
- In a variety of compound semiconductor material, such as InAs, InGaAs, and InGaN, - to enable electronics and electro-optic applications like integrated circuits, lasers, and LEDs.
Indium metal is also used in combination with various semiconducting oxides, where it plays its most valuable role as a transparent conductor. ITO (indium-tin oxide) is used on nearly every flat panel display and touchscreen in use today. In fact, IGZO (combining indium, gallium, and zinc oxides) is the future material of choice for forming the pixel switching transistors in next-generation displays.
Indium sputtering targets are commonly used with CuGa sputtering targets to co-deposit copper, indium, and gallium, in combination with sulfur/selenium, to form the active layer on CIS/CIGS thin film cells. Other forms of indium (such as pellets or shot) can be used to form similar active layers when utilizing evaporative methods of deposition.
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Our friends at North Carolina State University are at it again – doing interesting things with liquid metals.
Here are some things you need to know if you are planning on using liquid metal.
For some reason, I find the combination of gold and indium incredibly interesting. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; I caught gold fever panning for gold during a trip to Alaska, and “indium fever” is a pre-requisite for my job. Well, if it isn’t – it should be.
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From One Engineer to Another®
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