Indium is a chemical element that is extremely rare, soft and malleable. It has an atomic number of 49 and the chemical symbol of Ir. This element was discovered in 1863 and was named for the indigo streak in its spectrum. Indium is mostly obtained from zinc ores, but some Indium is obtained from naturally occurring grains of metal. Indium is chemically similar to both gallium and thallium. It is often used in an alloy with other metals such as tin, aluminium and gold. So how is Indium used in the modern world today? Read on to find out.
Uses of Indium
- Indium oxide and Indium tin oxide are used as transparent conductive coatings. They are applied to glass substrates to make electroluminescent panels, such as LCD screens and touch screens. This oxide is also used as a light filter in low-pressure sodium vapour lamps. In this application it reflects light back into the lamp making the lamp more effective.
- Indium antimonide, indium phosphide, and indium nitride are used as semiconductors.
- Indium is used to create the semiconductor copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS). These semiconductors are used to manufacture thin film solar cells.
- It is used in LEDs and laser diodes.
- Indium is also used as a replacement for mercury in batteries to prevent the zinc from corroding and releasing hydrogen gases.
- Indium is used in an alloy to create aluminium sacrificial anodes, which are used to prevent the aluminium becoming affected by the saltwater environment.
- Indium is used to bond gold test leads to superconductors as a conductive adhesive.
- It is made into wire that is used as a vacuum seal in applications such as cryogenics and ultra-high vacuum situation such as gaskets which deform to fill gaps.
- Indium is also used in the alloy galinstan which is used in the place of mercury as it is liquid at room temperature but is non toxic.
- Indium is used in the control rods in a nuclear reactor because of its high neutron capture rate.
- Indium foil is used as a thermal interface material in personal computers. When it melts it fills tiny gaps making the computer more efficient.
- Indium is also used as a radioactive tracer in medical imaging. 111In emits gamma radiation and is used to test the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy.