Rare metal Indium is widely used in solar panels, mobile phones and other industrial uses. It is also very expensive and so graphene is being explored as a possible replacement.
“Queen Mary University of London and the graphene-device company Paragraf have been awarded £500,000 by Innovate UK to explore using graphene to replace the rare metal Indium.
The Queen Mary research will be led by Sir Colin Humphreys from Queen Mary’s School of Engineering and Materials Science, with co-investigators Dr Oliver Fenwick from the same School and Professor William Gillin from the School of Physics. The Project Manager is Dr Ivor Guiney of Paragraf Ltd.
Indium is on the EU Critical Materials List and is stated to have an “irreplaceable role in industry and society.” The main use of Indium is in Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), widely used in solar panels, mobile phones, TV screens, etc. However, more than two-thirds of the world’s scarce Indium reserves are in China, which currently produces over half of the world’s Indium.
ITO is widely used because of its remarkable combination of properties: high electrical conductivity, high transparency and ease of deposition. However, because of its scarcity Indium is expensive (Indium costs £360 per kg, by comparison, Zinc costs only £4 per kg). ITO costs even more, £1,700 per kg, five times the price of silver. The global demand for ITO is £2.6 billion per year and rising. There is therefore an urgent need to replace ITO with something more sustainable.
Dr Simon Thomas, the CEO of Paragraf says: “Graphene is an extraordinary material that offers incredible potential in the world of electronics, not least in the replacement of expensive, extremely environmentally unfriendly device contact layers. This exciting project between Queen Mary and Paragraf has the opportunity to revolutionise the industry and provide a safer, more cost effective, renewable solution for electronics.”
Source: Eureka Alerts