Indium is one of the poor metals that has a bright, lustrous, silver grey color in its natural solid state. It is a soft and malleable metal, and it is minutely radioactive. Indium has an atomic weight of 114.818, a melting point of 313.88 °F, and a boiling point of 3762 °F. Some common uses of indium include: in the form of indium tin oxide thin films to create LCDs, as a component of some low melting alloys, as a component in light-emitting LEDs, and as a component in some mirrors and glass.
Indium occurs most often in nature with zinc ores. Isolation procedures used to extract indium from zinc is performed on a commercial scale.
Indium is found in ores which contain copper, iron, lead, and zinc. Most of the indium that is isolated commercially is extracted from zinc ores, and sometimes lead ores. It can be isolated from the zinc using electrolysis processes between indium salts and water. Indium is also a by-product of lead and zinc formation. During the electrolysis process, the salts of indium that were initially formed from beginning isolation processes are dissolved in water. A positive electrode, the anode, and the negative electrode, the cathode, are used to run an electric current through the solution. Indium is collected out of the solution. High purity indium that is used for electronic purposes must undergo further extraction techniques once it has been isolated from the solution in order to remove any contaminants. While pure indium is not considered to be hazardous, some indium compounds can be toxic so it should be handled with caution.
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