Unlike silicon, the elements used in compound semiconductors and printed circuit
applications are not virtually unlimited. For this reason, a company called,
IDTechEx, Augsberg University in Germany, and the journal, New Scientist, have
studied the availability of several rare earth elements used in printed circuits.
They have estimated how soon our supplies of them will run out. They predict
that in a mere 5 years or up to 10 years at most, the supply of indium will
be gone. Armin Reller, a materials chemist at the University of Augsberg in
Germany, notes that in January 2003 the price of the metal was about $60 per
kilogram, but by August 2006 had rocketed to over $1000 per kilogram. He said
that the current prices may have already begun to reflect the impending scarcity.
Researchers at the journal, New Scientist, did their own calculations of scarcity,
and they were most concerned about the massive demand for indium gallium arsenide
(InGaAs), and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) solar cells. Reserves
of both metals are disputed, but in a recent report Ren