Indium antimonide

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Indium antimonide
Ball and stick cell model of indium antimonide
Sample of crystalline indium antimonide
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.013.812 Edit this at Wikidata
EC Number
  • 215-192-3
RTECS number
  • NL1105000
UN number 1549
  • InChI=1S/In.Sb checkY
  • [In]#[Sb]
Molar mass 236.578 g·mol−1
Appearance Dark grey, metallic crystals
Density 5.775 g⋅cm−3
Melting point 527 °C (981 °F; 800 K)
Band gap 0.17 eV
Electron mobility 7.7 mC⋅s⋅g−1 (at 27 °C)
Thermal conductivity 180 mW⋅K−1⋅cm−1 (at 27 °C)
a = 0.648 nm
GHS labelling:
GHS07: Exclamation mark GHS09: Environmental hazard[1]
H302, H332, H411
Safety data sheet (SDS) External SDS
Related compounds
Other anions
Indium nitride
Indium phosphide
Indium arsenide
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Indium antimonide (InSb) is a crystalline compound made from the elements indium (In) and antimony (Sb). It is a narrow-gap semiconductor material from the III-V group used in infrared detectors, including thermal imaging cameras, FLIR systems, infrared homing missile guidance systems, and in infrared astronomy. The indium antimonide detectors are sensitive between 1–5 μm wavelengths.

Indium antimonide was a very common detector in the old, single-detector mechanically scanned thermal imaging systems. Another application is as a terahertz radiation source as it is a strong photo-Dember emitter.


The intermetallic compound was first reported by Liu and Peretti in 1951, who gave its homogeneity range, structure type, and lattice constant.[2] Polycrystalline ingots of InSb were prepared by Heinrich Welker in 1952, although they were not very pure by today's semiconductor standards. Welker was interested in systematically studying the semiconducting properties of the III-V compounds. He noted how InSb appeared to have a small direct band gap and a very high electron mobility.[3] InSb crystals have been grown by slow cooling from liquid melt at least since 1954.[4]

Physical properties[edit]

InSb has the appearance of dark-grey silvery metal pieces or powder with vitreous lustre. When subjected to temperatures over 500 °C, it melts and decomposes, liberating antimony and antimony oxide vapors.

The crystal structure is zincblende with a 0.648 nm lattice constant.[5]

Electronic properties[edit]

InSb is a narrow direct band gap semiconductor with an energy band gap of 0.17 eV at 300 K and 0.23 eV at 80 K.[5] [6], under the effect of pressure InSb convert from a direct band gap semiconductor to an indirect band gap semiconductor[7]

Undoped InSb possesses the largest ambient-temperature electron mobility (78000 cm2/V⋅s),[8] electron drift velocity, and ballistic length (up to 0.7 μm at 300 K)[5] of any known semiconductor, except for carbon nanotubes.

Indium antimonide photodiode detectors are photovoltaic, generating electric current when subjected to infrared radiation. InSb's internal quantum efficiency is effectively 100% but is a function of the thickness particularly for near bandedge photons.[9] Like all narrow bandgap materials InSb detectors require periodic recalibrations, increasing the complexity of the imaging system. This added complexity is worthwhile where extreme sensitivity is required, e.g. in long-range military thermal imaging systems. InSb detectors also require cooling, as they have to operate at cryogenic temperatures (typically 80 K). Large arrays (up to 2048×2048 pixels) are available.[10] HgCdTe and PtSi are materials with similar use.

A layer of indium antimonide sandwiched between layers of aluminium indium antimonide can act as a quantum well. In such a heterostructure InSb/AlInSb has recently been shown to exhibit a robust quantum Hall effect.[11] This approach is studied in order to construct very fast transistors.[12] Bipolar transistors operating at frequencies up to 85 GHz were constructed from indium antimonide in the late 1990s; field-effect transistors operating at over 200 GHz have been reported more recently (Intel/QinetiQ).[citation needed] Some models suggest that terahertz frequencies are achievable with this material. Indium antimonide semiconductor devices are also capable of operating with voltages under 0.5 V, reducing their power requirements.

Growth methods[edit]

InSb can be grown by solidifying a melt from the liquid state (Czochralski process), or epitaxially by liquid phase epitaxy, hot wall epitaxy or molecular beam epitaxy. It can also be grown from organometallic compounds by MOVPE.

Quaternary compounds[edit]

Indium antimonide is sometimes alloyed with indium phosphide and Indium arsenide to create a quaternary alloy with a range of band gaps that depend on the different concentration ratios of its components (InP, InAs and InSb), such quaternary alloys was under extensive theoretical studies to study the effect of pressure[13] and temperature[14] on its properties.

Device applications[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Indium Antimonde". American Elements. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  2. ^ Liu, T.S.; Peretti, E.A. (1951). "The Lattice Parameter of InSb". Trans AIME. 191: 791.
  3. ^ Orton, J.W. (2009). Semiconductors and the Information Revolution: Magic Crystals that Made IT Happen. Academic Press. pp. 138–9. ISBN 9780444532404.
  4. ^ Avery, D G; Goodwin, D W; Lawson, W D; Moss, T S (1954). "Optical and Photo-Electrical Properties of Indium Antimonide". Proceedings of the Physical Society. Series B. 67 (10): 761. Bibcode:1954PPSB...67..761A. doi:10.1088/0370-1301/67/10/304.
  5. ^ a b c Properties of Indium Antimonide (InSb)
  6. ^ Degheidy, Abdel Razik; Elkenany, Elkenany Brens; Madkour, Mohamed Abdel Kader; Abuali, Ahmed. M. (2018-09-01). "Temperature dependence of phonons and related crystal properties in InAs, InP and InSb zinc-blende binary compounds". Computational Condensed Matter. 16: e00308. doi:10.1016/j.cocom.2018.e00308. S2CID 104138117.
  7. ^ Degheidy, A. R.; Abuali, A. M.; Elkenany, Elkenany B. (2022-06-01). "The Response of Phonon Frequencies, Sound Velocity, Electronic, Optical, and Mechanical Properties of Indium (Phosphide, Arsenide, and Antimonide) to Hydrostatic Pressure". ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology. 11 (6): 063016. doi:10.1149/2162-8777/ac79cc. ISSN 2162-8769.
  8. ^ Rode, D. L. (1971). "Electron Transport in InSb, InAs, and InP". Physical Review B. 3 (10): 3287–3299. Bibcode:1971PhRvB...3.3287R. doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.3.3287.
  9. ^ Avery, D G; Goodwin, D W; Rennie, Miss A E (1957). "New infra-red detectors using indium antimonide". Journal of Scientific Instruments. 34 (10): 394. Bibcode:1957JScI...34..394A. doi:10.1088/0950-7671/34/10/305.
  10. ^ Beckett, M.G. (1995). "3. Camera". High Resolution Infrared Imaging (PhD). Cambridge University.
  11. ^ Alexander-Webber, J. A.; Baker, A. M. R.; Buckle, P. D.; Ashley, T.; Nicholas, R. J. (2012-07-05). "High-current breakdown of the quantum Hall effect and electron heating in InSb/AlInSb". Physical Review B. American Physical Society (APS). 86 (4): 045404. Bibcode:2012PhRvB..86d5404A. doi:10.1103/physrevb.86.045404.
  12. ^ Will Knight (2005-02-10). "'Quantum well' transistor promises lean computing". New Scientist. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  13. ^ Degheidy, A. R.; AbuAli, A. M.; Elkenany, Elkenany. B. (2021-05-18). "Phonon frequencies, mechanical and optoelectronic properties for $${\mathbf{InP}}_{{\mathbf{x}}} {\mathbf{As}}_{{\mathbf{y}}} {\mathbf{Sb}}_{{1 - {\mathbf{x}} - {\mathbf{y}}}}$$/InAs alloys under the influence of pressure". Applied Physics A. 127 (6): 429. doi:10.1007/s00339-021-04551-4. ISSN 1432-0630.
  14. ^ Degheidy, A. R.; Abuali, A. M.; Elkenany, Elkenany B. (2022-02-26). "Thermal response of electronic, optical, mechanical properties, phonon frequencies, and sound velocity of InPxAsySb1−x−y/InAs quaternary semiconductor system". Optical and Quantum Electronics. 54 (3): 189. doi:10.1007/s11082-022-03566-2. ISSN 1572-817X.

External links[edit]