GERMANIUMFrom the Latin word Germania, meaning Germany
CLEMENS ALEXANDER WINKLER Germanium was first proposed toexist by Dmitri Mendeleyev in 1871based on gaps in his newly createdPeriodic Table of Elements. It wasdiscovered by the German chemistClemens Winkler in 1886.
“…In the summer of 1885, a rich silver ore of unusualappearance was found at Himmelsfurst Fundgrube nearFreiburg; A. Weisbach recognized it as a new mineralspecies and called it "argyrodite." Th. Richter subjectedthe mineral to a preliminary investigation with theblowpipe and found as its main components sulphurand silver, but he also stated the presence of a smallquantity of mercury, which is surprising and interestingsince this metal has never shown up before in the lodesof Freiburg….
“…The analysis of the mineral undertaken by meshowed that the mercury content is not more than 0.21per cent; besides, depending on the purity of theinvestigated material, 73 to 75 per cent silver, 17 to 18per cent sulphur, very small quantities of iron, andtraces of arsenic were found. However, the mostcareful analysis always concluded with a loss of 6 to 7per cent, and it did not seem possible to discover themissing part by the usual procedure of qualitativeanalysis….”
“…After several weeks of painstaking search, I cannow state definitely: argyrodite contains a new element,very similar to antimony and yet sharply distinguishedfrom it, to which the name "germanium" shall be given.Its discovery was connected with much difficulty andpainful doubt because the minerals that accompaniedargyrodite contained arsenic and antimony; their greatresemblance to germanium and the absence ofmethods for separation were extremely disturbing….”
PROPERTIES Germanium looks like a metal. It has a bright, shiny, silvery color, but it isbrittle and breaks apart rather easily. It conducts an electric current poorly,making it a semiconductor. Germanium is also a relatively inactive element. It does not dissolve in waterand does not react with oxygen at room temperature, but it does dissolve in hotacids and with oxygen at high temperatures. It becomes more active when finelydivided, and will also combine with chlorine and bromine to form germaniumchloride (GeCl4) and germanium bromide (GeBr4).
PROPERTIES The abundance of germanium in the Earths crust is estimated to be about 7parts per million. That places it in the bottom third of the elements whenarranged according to their abundance. The two most common minerals of germanium are argyrodite and germanite.Argyrodite is the mineral in which Winkler first discovered germanium.Germanite contains about 8 percent germanium.
PROPERTIES Most germanium today is obtained from zinc ores. When those ores are treatedto obtain zinc metal, some germanium is produced at the same time. Germanium is obtained from two mines in the United States. One mine is inAlaska and the other is in Tennessee. The United States also imports germaniumfrom China, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Russia, Belgium, and other nations.
Isotope Half Life ISOTOPESGe-68 270.8 days There are five naturally occurringGe-69 1.6 days isotopes of germanium.Ge-70 Stable At least nine radioactive isotopes ofGe-71 11.4 days germanium are also known.Ge-72 Stable None of the radioactive isotopes ofGe-73 Stable germanium has any importantGe-74 Stable commercial use.Ge-76 StableGe-77 11.3 hours
USES The largest use of germanium is in the semiconductorindustry. This still accounts for about 15 percent of thegermanium produced. When doped with small amountsof arsenic, gallium, indium, antimony, or phosphorus,germanium is used to make transistors for use in electronicdevices.
USESGermanium is also used to create alloys and as a phosphorin fluorescent lamps. Both germanium and germaniumoxide (GeO) are transparent to infrared radiation and areused in infrared optical instruments and infrared detectors.About 40 percent of the germanium produced in theUnited States is now used in the manufacture of fiberoptic systems.
USES Germanium is also used as a catalyst and also to makespecialized glass for military applications such as weapons-sighting systems that can be used in the dark. Satellitesystems may also contain glass that contains germanium.Germanium is not thought to be essential to the health ofplants or animals.
USESSmall amounts of organic germanium are found in someplant-based foods. Inorganic germanium is mined andwidely used as a semiconductor in the electronics industry.Both organic and inorganic germanium have been sold asdietary supplements, though the organic forms are morecommonly used today. Ge-132 is a compound that containsgermanium, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. It is oftencalled organic germanium, because chemists refer to carbon-containing compounds as organic.
USES This might confuse some people, since the word“organic” is also used in non-technical language to describe“natural” products. However, Ge-132 does not occurnaturally and is a synthetic (man-made) substance. Somegermanium compounds seem to be effective in killing sometypes of bacteria and are currently being studied for use inchemotherapy.
USES Available scientific evidence does not support claims that germaniumsupplements promote health or increase the bodys production of interferon. Astudy conducted by the FDA found at least 31 cases of kidney failure linked togermanium products. A number of deaths have also been reported. Most ofthese effects were from inorganic forms of germanium, but the FDA has alsofound severe kidney damage in people taking germanium that was sold asorganic.
COSTCost, pure: $360 per100gCost, bulk: $120 per 100g
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RESOURCES"OJSC." Germanium. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://www.krasgermanium.com/enindex.html>.Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility - Office of Science Education. "Its Elemental - The Element Germanium." Science Education at Jefferson Lab. Web. 09 Nov. 2011. <http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele032.html>.Winkler, Clemens. "Berichte Der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft." ChemTeam: Go to ChemTeams Main Menu. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://www.chemteam.info/Chem- History/Disc-of-Germanium.html>.Vol. 19 (1886), pp. 210-211.