Germanium is a hard, grayish-white element that has a metallic luster and the same crystal structure as diamond. In addition, it is important to note that germanium is a semiconductor, with electrical properties between those of a metal and an insulator. In its pure state, this metalloid is crystalline, brittle and retains its lustre in air at room temperature. Zone refining techniques have led to the production of crystalline germanium for semiconductors that have an impurity of only one part in 1010.
Unlike most semiconductors, germanium has a small band gap, allowing it to efficiently respond to infrared light. It is therefore used in infrared spectroscopes and other optical equipment which require extremely sensitive infrared detectors. Its oxide's index of refraction and dispersion properties make germanium useful in wide-angle camera lenses and in microscope objective lenses.
Germanium transistors are still used in some stompboxes by musicians who wish to reproduce the distinctive tonal character of the "fuzz"-tone from the early rock and roll era. Vintage stompboxes known to contain germanium transistors have shown marked increases in collector value for this reason alone.
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. Circuits utilising the properties of Si-SiGe junctions can be much faster than those using silicon alone.
Phosphor in fluorescent lamps
High purity germanium single crystal detectors can precisely identify radiation sources (e.g. for airport security)
Certain compounds of germanium have low toxicity to mammals, but have toxic effects against certain bacteria. This property makes these compounds useful as chemotherapeutic agents.
The perfection of germanium such as silicon makes these elements as single crystal neutron or synchrotron X-ray monochromator for beamlines. The reflectivity has advantages over silicon in neutron and High energy X-ray applications.
This element is found in argyrodite (sulfide of germanium and silver); coal; germanite; zinc ores; and other minerals. See also Category:Germanium minerals
Germanium is obtained commercially from zinc ore processing smelter dust and from the combustion by-products of certain coals. A large reserve of this element is therefore in coal sources.
This metalloid can be extracted from other metals by fractional distillation of its volatile tetrachloride. This technique permits the production of ultra-high purity germanium.
In 1997 the cost of germanium was about US$3 per gram. The yearend price for germanium in 2000 was $1,150 per kilogram (or $1.15 per gram).
Other useful Minerals information: Potassium | Iron | Iodine
Page Content: organic germanium, germanium dioxide .
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