Germanium (Ge) is a silvery semi-metal element used in semiconductors. It is used as a transistor in thousands of types of electronics. It is a lustrous, hard, grayish-white metalloid in the carbon group, chemically similar to its group neighbors tin and silicon. Purified germanium is a semiconductor, with an appearance most similar to elemental silicon.
Because very few minerals contain it in high concentration, germanium was discovered comparatively late in the history of chemistry. Germanium ranks near fiftieth in relative abundance of the elements in the Earth’s crust. In 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev predicted its existence and some of its properties based on its position on his periodic table and called the element ekasilicon. Nearly two decades later, in 1886, found the new element along with silver and sulfur, in a rare mineral called argyrodite. Winkler named the element after his country, Germany.
The major end uses for germanium in 2007, worldwide, were estimated to be: 35% for fiber-optic systems, 30% infrared optics, 15% for polymerization catalysts, and 15% for electronics and solar electric applications. The remaining 5% went into other uses such as phosphors, metallurgy, and chemotherapy.