Indium is in the A, B & D Baskets.
It is the year 1863. In the Battle of Gettysburg, the troops of the Northern and Southern States are grimly facing each other. It was perhaps the most crucial clash of the American Civil War, and for sure it was the bloodiest: After three days of gun smoke, cannon and sabre-rattling, 44,000 men withdraw from fighting due to injury and both sides report a total of around 5,500 deaths. On the other side of the Atlantic in the tranquil city of Freiberg the two German chemists, Ferdinand Reich and Theodor Richter, were hardly aware of the fighting. They were analyzing a sample for traces of thallium, and encounter an indigo spectral line. Soon they realise: They have discovered a new element.
An element, whose name was later coined after the colour of the spectral line: Indium. It is presented to the public in larger amounts for the first time in 1867 at the World Exhibition in Paris, and its commercial use as a coating for bearings in aircraft engines began during the Second World War. Indium was getting ready to take over the world. It is found today in all displays, flat screens, cell phones as well as computers – things which are most popular in the 21st Century.
As early as 2006, 230 tonnes of the total world annual production of 600 tonnes was needed for the production of displays alone and by 2030 the renowned Fraunhofer Institute predicts a huge annual demand of 1,580 tonnes. More than fifty percent of the production comes from in China, the biggest supplier, and also the largest deposits of the world‘s reserves are found there – an estimated 8,000 of a total of 11,000 tonnes. The shiny silvery indium is very soft in its pure form, you could carve figures from it or notch it with your fingernail, but it does defend itself while being bent. When bending the crystals disintegrate, reorient themselves and produce a squeaking noise – they literally cry out, just the same way as the thousands of wounded fighters at Gettysburg.