Periodic Table -> Indium


Indium Details

Indium Symbol: In

Indium Atomic Number: 49

Indium Atomic Weight: 114.82

What is Indium?

Indium (atomic number 49, symbol In) is a malleable and soft chemical element, which is similar to thallium and gallium in terms of chemical properties. It is a rare and fusible metal and exhibits intermediary properties between gallium and thallium. The primary source of indium is zinc ores, and it occurs in a compound form in them. Indium rarely occurs in the form of grains of a free or native metal, and these grains are of no commercial importance.

The element does not react with water, but strong oxidizing agents oxidize it, for example, oxalic acid and halogens, giving indium (III) compounds. Indium does not react with carbon, silicon, or boron, and the corresponding carbide, silicide, and boride are not known. No reaction takes place between hydrogen and indium, but indium (III) and indium (I) hydrates can be formed.

Indium has a face-centered tetragonal structure. It dissolvers in acids and is stable in water and air. It burns with a violet flame when it is heated about its melting point.

The main application of indium is in producing transparent electrodes in touch screens and liquid crystal displays. Indium is also used to create lubricated layers in thin-films and during the Second World War, it was employed to coat bearings in aircraft. In addition, indium is used to create low melting point alloys, being an element of some lead-free solders. Both gallium and indium can wet glass.

Indium is added to fusible, low-melting alloys and serves as a protective plate for metal surfaces like bearings. Indium is also employed in the forming of corrosion-resistant mirror surfaces. When it evaporates and deposits on glass, indium produces good quality mirror, which is as good as that of silver. Then, indium foils are employed as part of an assessment process to establish what takes place inside nuclear reactors. In low-pressure sodium vapor lamps, indium is employed as a light filter.

Indium tin oxide and indium oxide are applied to glass substrates as a conductive coating as to make electroluminescent panels. Some compounds of indium, for example, indium nitride, indium phosphide, and indium antimonide are semiconductors and have useful properties. Indium is also employed in laser diodes and light-emitting diodes, which are based on semiconductors like InGaP, and InGaN. MOVPE or Metalorganic Vapor Phase Epitaxy is used to produce them. The synthesis of CIGS also employs indium, which is involved in the manufacturing of thin film solar cells. High purity trimethylindium, which is a very pure metalorganics of indium, is used in the making of compound semiconductors. In alkaline batteries, it is a substitute for mercury, preventing zinc from releasing hydrogen gas and corroding.

Indium does not have any biological role. According to scientists, it may stimulate metabolism in small doses. People rarely encounter compounds of indium, but they are very toxic and can damage the liver, kidney, and heart, and may be teratogenic. Research has not produced sufficient data on the effects of indium on human health. It should be approached with utmost caution. The element does not occur widely in the environment and hence, it poses no threat to marine or land life. However, the environmental effect of indium has not been sufficiently investigated. Cultivated soils have been found to be richer in this element compared with non-cultivated ones. Discovered in 1863 by Reich and Richter.

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