Germanium

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Germanium

This is germanium.

Symbol Ge
Atomic number 32
Atomic mass 72.59 amu

Germanium, discovered in 1886, is found in germanite, which is a mixture of copper, iron and germanium sulfides.

Distinguishing properties

Germanium resembles silicon.

Usage

Like silicon, germanium is used as semiconductors, especially in transistors. For this purpose, exceedingly high purity is essential. Germanium chloride is purified by fractional distillation and is roasted in oxygen to produce germanium oxide, GeO2. It is then reacted with hydrogen in a hot tube or on a hot wire. Then by a process called "zone refining", super-pure germanium is obtained.

Germanium has replaced large vacuum tubes with electronic devices called semiconductors. Other uses of germanium include infrared spectrometer windows and lenses.

See also

Periodic table of the elements