Facts about Germanium

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The advent of electronics has proved to be a major advantage to the current generation. Innovation in the field of electronics sees no limits and newer, more advanced products are introduced into the market with every passing day.
True to the saying “Great things come in small packages”, it is indeed intriguing to learn that the quintessential components of these multipurpose gadgets are in fact tiny crystals of elements that are fabricated due to their different properties.

Germanium is one such element whose application in Semi- conductor devices is widely perused by many and its conglomeration with other elements has led to the production of newer versions of technologies that out par the previous ones.

Here are a few facts about germanium.

1. The elemental details.
The elemental details of germanium are as follows:
Atomic number: 32
Atomic weight: 72.63
It is represented by the symbol Ge.

2. Origin of the word Germanium.
The word ‘Germanium’ originated from the Latin word ‘Germania’ referring to the German region where the element was first found.

3. History of discovery.

The element was first discovered in 1885 when a mine worker came across an unusual ore. On studying the properties of the element, it was realized that its existence had already been predicted by Mendeleev who placed below silicon in the periodic table.
The discovery of Germanium is credited to Clemens A Winkler.

4. Physical properties of germanium.
Germanium is a brittle crystal that is greyish white in color. It has a high melting and boiling point. It shows electric properties and also has a high refractive index.

5. Chemical properties of germanium.
Germanium shows properties similar to that of silicon. It is unaffected by action of acids and alkalis except nitric acid.Germanium combines with oxygen yielding germanium dioxide. Germanium dioxide is represented as GeO2.
Germanium also combines with chlorine to produce a compound called Germanium tetrachloride. This compound is represented as GeCl4.

6. Classification of the element.
Germanium is a semi- metal and is thus classified and grouped with the metalloids in the periodic table. They are placed in group 14 and period 4 of the periodic table. Germanium is thus a P-block element.

7. Uses of Germanium.
Germanium is most widely used in the field of electronics. Its use in the fabrication of semi- conductors has increased exponentially over the years.
They are also used as chemotherapeutic agents due to their toxic action against certain bacteria.
Germanium oxide is used in camera and optical lenses of microscopes owing to its high refractive index.
This element also finds its use in solar panels and scanners.
Most fluorescent lamps and LED are also fabricated from Germanium.

8. Biological effects of germanium.
Germanium is known to have non- toxic effects on the human body. It is known for its antioxidant action in the body. This element is also used to increase blood circulation to the brain. Germanium mainly finds its use in heart and blood vessel conditions. Other effects include the use of germanium to treat osteoarthritis and weak bones.

9. Where is germanium found?
Germanium is present in 2 mines in the United States, one in Alaska and the other in Tennessee.
Apart from the United States, germanium can also be found in other parts of the world like China, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Russia and Belgium to name a few.

10. Sources of germanium.
Germanium may be obtained from ores such as Zinc ores. It can also be obtained as by products from certain coals.
Most Germanium ores are very low in abundance. Germanium can also be obtained from minerals such as germanite and argyrodite.

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