Indium

Indium

No other metal is as versatile as indium metal.

Features & Benefits

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

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.

Versatile. Conductive. Malleable. Because of its unique properties with virtually limitless applications, indium is literally all around us. Click here to learn more.
Indium Supply

Physical Constants of Pure Indium

Indium, the 49th element, was discovered in Germany in 1863. In 1934, Indium Corporation of America was the first to begin commercial development of indium, and is still the leading refiner, fabricator, and marketer of this versatile silver-white metal. Indium is used in a wide variety of applications, based on its unique attributes.

Typical Indium Applications

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Indium Supply

The Indium Corporation is confident of the sustained indium metal supply.

There has been concern expressed that the world may face an indium shortage given the rising price environment experienced this year. The Indium Corporation believes that the temporary imbalance between supply and demand will be corrected and that sufficient indium is available to meet forecasted demand.

In 1934 the Indium Corporation began extracting, refining, purifying and fabricating indium. Seventy years later indium is still "Our Product, Our Symbol, Our Name." Over the years we have significantly increased our refining and recycling capacity which has ultimately increased the global supply.

Short-term shortages have periodically occurred because global production and usage are so finely balanced. However, these shortages have historically been corrected by increasing refining capacity and, ultimately, supply.

The documents below contain data from the U.S. Geological Survey. The data shows that indium is available. Indium exists in the earth’s crust in quantities approximately three times that of silver (which is currently extracted at 60x the rate of indium). While extraction efficiency is greater for silver, the relative abundance and current extraction rates of indium versus silver are still a telling story.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey statistics, the worldwide output of indium metal has increased 7X since 1980. We believe that this trend will continue and supply will expand to meet demand.

The indium supply has been bolstered by continued improvement in recycling programs. In the rapidly growing LCD market, greater than 85% of non-deposited indium is reclaimed and returned to the supply chain.

We believe the currently-observed price fluctuations are primarily due to a time lag between emerging demand and available supply. As has been observed in previous cycles, the Indium Corporation believes higher prices will draw forward additional supplies which will alleviate any scarcity.

Indium metal’s unique properties make it a critical component for many products, and the Indium Corporation is committed to, and confident of, meeting the indium needs of its partners.

If you have questions about the indium supply or applications for indium metal, alloys or chemicals, please contact Claire Mikolajczak at +39 011-655331, cmiko@indium.com or Donna Vareha-Walsh at +1 315-853-4900, dvareha-walsh@indium.com.

1 http://minerals.usgs.gov/ds/2005/140/silver.pdf
2 http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/mcs/2013/mcs2013.pdf

Indium Solder and Sealing

No other metal is as versatile as indium metal. In its various forms it can be used for:

  • Sealing in cryogenic applications - stays malleable and ductile below -150°C
  • Soldering or fusing applications - melts at temperatures ranging from 6.5°C to 310°C
  • High-end device cooling - reduces operating temperatures by up to 10°C

Benefits of Using Indium for Solder and Sealing

  • Indium is ductile and malleable which allows it to deform and fill in the uneven microstructure of two mating parts, using only moderate pressure.
  • This ductility and malleability is retained at cryogenic temperatures so that an assembly can maintain an effective seal, even in harsh environments.
  • With a relatively high thermal conductivity of 86W/mK @ 85°C, indium is widely used in thermal management applications to dissipate the heat produced by electronic components.
  • Indium compensates for different coefficients of thermal expansion (CTE) when bonding dissimilar parts.
  • Even in small percentages, indium can improve the thermal fatigue performance of solders used in electronics assembly.
  • Several indium-containing alloys melt at temperatures less than 180°C, making them ideal for step soldering or applications that require lower reflow temperatures.
  • Indium has a low vapor pressure, making it suitable for use in high vacuum applications.
  • Indium alloys enable solders to withstand drop tests better than other low melting alloys.

Forms of Indium

The versatility of indium extends to many forms. Indium Corporation has developed the processes necessary to optimize the manufacturability of indium and its alloys into all of these forms:

Indium Wire Diameter

Indium & Indium Alloy Wire

The unique characteristics of indium metal make it an ideal solution for many soldering and sealing applications. As a wire, pure indium provides an excellent hermetic seal since it fills the imperfections in the mating surfaces. Pure indium also remains malleable at cryogenic temperatures so that sealing applications operating in harsh conditions are not compromised.

Contact us today to discuss your application and how our wire can work for you.