It is common to hear people that are skeptical about CIGS technology ask questions like:
- "Aren't indium and indium tin oxide (ITO) thin film deposition processes wasteful and inefficient?"
- “Aren’t we going to run out of indium soon? Doesn't the world use more than we produce!”
What are the truths?
Here they are:
WASTEFUL: A well-run process is NOT wasteful. Why? Recycling!
At first glance, a process like indium planar target sputtering seems ridiculous – generally only 30% of the indium actually makes it onto the substrate it is destined for (and that’s in a well-tuned process). As it turns out, the material that doesn’t land on the substrate is too valuable to just scrap. This translates into recycling, a lot of recycling…
According to presentations given at Minor Metals 2012: “indium production will total 1,500-1,700 tonnes in 2012, with virgin supply accounting for around a third of total output”. It’s incredible that recycling accounts for such a large percentage of the indium used in the world today.
INDIUM AVAILABILITY AND SUPPLY: Another important conclusion made at the conference was (as reported in Metal Bulletin):
“proven indium reserves from existing mines at 50,000 tonnes, a volume that will be sufficient to satisfy demand for the next 75 years”.
While it’s not news at Indium Corporation, it is definitely assuring news for those looking to get involved with CIGS technology.