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Germanium


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Atomic Number:32Atomic Symbol:Ge
Atomic Weight:72.59Electron Configuration:2-8-18-4
Shells:2,8,18,4Filling Orbital:5s1
Melting Point:38.89oCBoiling Point:688oC
Uses:catalyst, photocells, vaccum tubes

History

(Latin Germania, Germany) Mendeleev predicted the existence of Germanium in 1871 as ekasilicon, and the element was discovered by Clemens Winkler of Germany in 1886.

Sources

The metal is found in
  • argyrodite, a sulfide of germanium and silver;
  • germanite, which containes 8 percent of the element;
  • zinc ores;
  • coal; and
  • other minerals.
The element is commercially obtained from the dusts of smelters processing zinc ores, as well as recovered from combustion by-products of certain coals.
A large reserve of the elements for future uses in insured in coal sources.
Germanium can be separated from other metals by fractional distillation of its volatile tetrachloride. The techniques permit the production of germanium of ultra-high purity.

Properties

  • The element is a gray-white metalloid. In its pure state, the element is crystalline and brittle, retaining its luster in air at room temperature.
  • It is a very important semiconductor material.
  • Zone-refining techniques have led to production of crystalline germanium for semiconductor use with an impurity of only one part in 1010.

Uses

When germanium is doped with arsenic, gallium, or other elements, it is used as a transistor element in thousands of electronic applications.
The most common use of germanium is as a semiconductor.
Germanium is also finding many other applications including use as an alloying agent, as a phosphor in fluorescent lamps, and as a catalyst.
Germanium and germanium oxide are transparent to the infrared and are used in infrared spectroscopes and other optical equipment, including extremely sensitive infrared detectors.
The high index of refraction and dispersion properties of its oxide's have made germanium useful as a component of wide-angle camera lenses and microscope objectives.
The field of organogermanium chemistry is becoming increasingly important.
Certain germanium compounds have a low mammalian toxicity, but a marked activity against certain bacteria, which makes them useful as chemotherapeutic agents.

Costs

The cost of germanium is about $3/g.

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