Indium Phosphide: the miracle compound

Red Herring :: A compound interest in fiber optics :: A handful of firms exploring the opportunities of indium phosphide, a material that is likely to revolutionize the communications industry. Though discovered in 1863, InP was pretty much ignored by the scientific community until the late ’80s, when the aerospace industry took notice. Not long after, InP-based components started appearing in avionics equipment. Indium phosphide isn’t without shortcomings, however. For one, the yields of InP wafers in semiconductor manufacturing are notoriously low, less than 40 percent, because the wafers are fragile and break. That means InP-based materials are expensive, at least for now.