Indium: bringing liquid-crystal displays into focus

Fact Sheet 2015-3012



Indium is rare in the Earth’s crust. The continental crust contains an average of about 50 parts per billion of indium, whereas the oceanic crust contains about 72 parts per billion, which is similar to meteoritic abundances and comparable to the crustal abundance of silver. Indium minerals are rare in nature and only 12 indium minerals are known. In its elemental form, indium is a soft, lustrous, silver-white metal with a low melting point relative to other metals. It is ductile and malleable, even at temperatures approaching absolute zero, making it ideal for cryogenic applications.

Indium was discovered in the mid-1800s by two German chemists who were investigating zinc ores from Freiberg, Saxony. They named it after the distinctive indigo-blue color observed in its emission spectrum. For years indium remained only a scientific curiosity and early applications of indium were few, but included manufacturing of light-emitting diodes and coatings for bearings used in aircraft engines. Indium-bearing nuclear control rods became more widely used in the 1970s, and today the major application of indium is in manufacturing liquid-crystal displays.

Compared to more abundant industrial metals such as lead and zinc, information about the behavior and toxicity of indium in the environment is limited. However, many indium compounds have been proven to be toxic to animals.

Suggested Citation

Mercer, C.N., 2015, Indium—Bringing liquid-crystal displays into focus: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2015-3012, 2 p.,

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

Table of Contents

  • How Do We Use Indium?
  • Where Does Indium Come From?
  • Worldwide Supply of and Demand for Indium
  • How Do We Ensure Adequate Supplies of Indium for the Future?
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Indium: bringing liquid-crystal displays into focus
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2015-3012
DOI 10.3133/fs20153012
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
Description 2 p.
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details