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Information @ a Glance

General

  • Germanium (pronounced /dʒɚˈmeɪniəm/) is a chemical element with the symbol Ge and atomic number 32.
  • This lustrous, hard, silver-white metalloid is chemically similar to tin.
  •  Germanium forms a large number of organometallic compounds and is an important semiconductor material used in transistors. It is named after the country of Germany.
  • Pure germanium is known to spontaneously extrude very long screw dislocations, referred to as germanium whiskers.

Application

  • One of the leading uses for germanium is as a replacement for silica in the stationary phase in chromatography.
  • Germanium transistors are still used in some effects pedals by musicians who wish to reproduce the distinctive tonal character of the "fuzz"-tone from the early rock and roll era, most notably the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face.
  • Germanium is useful for single crystal neutron or synchrotron X-ray monochromator for beamlines. The reflectivity has advantages over silicon in neutron and High energy X-ray applications.
  • The alloy silicon germanide (commonly referred to as "silicon-germanium", or SiGe) is rapidly becoming an important semiconductor material, for use in high speed integrated circuits

Market

  • In 1999, the USGS estimated U.S. refinery production of germanium from primary and semirefined materials to be 20,000 kg, nearly 10% less than that of 1998, but still more than twice as much as the production of the early 1990’s.
  • The fall in prices during 1997 was caused by a weakening of demand and an increasing supply from worldwide national stockpile sales.
  •  In 1998, prices increased despite an oversupply that resulted from: (1) slight decreases in world demand for optical fibers and polyethylene terephthalate (PET); and (2) an increase in total supply owing to greater amounts of recycling and continued releases of germanium from national stockpiles in Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.

Report

  • As early as the 1940s, the ability of germanium metal and germanium-containing glasses to transmit near-IR radiation was recognized as a critical property for use in night vision devices of the passive variety—those that use heat radiated by objects to view the objects.
  • Demand for such devices for military purposes grew steadily and, by the late 1970s, had displaced electronics as the principal end use for germanium.
  • Demand for germanium grew at a very fast rate in the 1950s; by 1956, U.S. estimated consumption had risen to 10,000 kilograms (kg), and by 1960 it had reached its peak at more than 45,000 kg.

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