Tin oxide

Indium tin oxide

Physical Properties
State of matter Solid
Melting point 1800-2200 K (2800-3500 °F)
Density 7120-7160 kg/m3 at 293 K
Color (in powder form) Pale yellow to greenish yellow, depending on SnO2 concentration
Values vary with composition.
SI units & STP are used except where noted.
Indium tin oxide (ITO, or tin-doped indium oxide) is a solid solution of indium(III) oxide (In2O3) and tin(IV) oxide (SnO2), typically 90% In2O3, 10% SnO2 by weight. It is transparent and colorless in thin layers. In bulk form, it is yellowish to grey. In the infrared region of the spectrum it is a metal-like mirror.

Indium tin oxide's main feature is the combination of electrical conductivity and optical transparency. However, a compromise has to be reached during film deposition, as high concentration of charge carriers will increase the material's conductivity, but decrease its transparency.

Thin films of indium tin oxide are most commonly deposited on surfaces by electron beam evaporation, physical vapor deposition, or a range of sputter deposition techniques.


ITO is mainly used to make transparent conductive coatings for liquid crystal displays, flat panel displays, plasma displays, touch panels, electronic ink applications, organic light-emitting diodes, solar cells,antistatic coatings and EMI shieldings. In organic light-emitting diodes, ITO is used as the anode (hole injection layer).

ITO has been used as a conductive material in the plastic electroluminescent lamp of toy Star Wars type lightsabers.

ITO is also used for various optical coatings, most notably infrared-reflecting coatings (hot mirrors) for architectural, automotive, and sodium vapor lamp glasses. Other uses include gas sensors, antireflection coatings, electrowetting on dielectrics, and Bragg reflectors for VCSEL lasers.

Reportedly, ITO is used as sensor coating in the Canon 400D/XTi and Sony Alpha DSLR-A100.

ITO thin film strain gauges can operate at temperatures up to 1400 °C and can be used in harsh environments, e.g. gas turbines, jet engines, and rocket engines


Due to high cost and limited supply of indium, the fragility and lack of flexibility of ITO layers, and the costly layer deposition requiring vacuum, alternatives are being sought. Carbon nanotube conductive coatings are a prospective replacement. These coatings are being developed by Canatu, Eikos and Unidym as a lower cost, more mechanically robust alternative to ITO. PEDOT and are manufactured by AGFA and H.C. Starck. PEDOT:PSS layers are in use (though they degrade when exposed to ultraviolet radiation and have other disadvantages). Other alternatives are eg. aluminium-doped zinc oxide. Cambrios, founded in 2002 by Drs. Angela Belcher of MIT and Evelyn Hu, has a wet-processable transparent conductive film alternative for ITO.

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