Germaniumas an element was identified in 1886 by aGerman chemistClemens Winkler.The existence of anelement with Germanium’satomic structurewas actuallypredicted by theRussian chemist Mendeleev,who left aspace in his periodic table for an element which he named‘ekasilicon’. Winkler isolated this element during ananalysis of the ore argyrodite, a silver mineral, from theHimmelsfurst mine, St. Michaelis near Freiburg in Saxonyand named it Germanium after his homeland. Germaniumbelongs to family four of the periodic table,along withcarbon, silicon, tin and lead, and is usually classified as asemi-metal,or said tohave semiconductor properties.
Germaniumis not that rare in the universe, withestimates rangingfrom10-55 parts per million (ppm)(92).On theearth’s crustits
concentration is approximately 6 ppm
therefore being moreabundant than
gold, silver, cadmium, bismuth, antimony andmercury
in the same range as molybdenum,arsenic, tin, boron and beryllium.
Germaniumrarely forms its own mineral deposits. In most cases,Germanium isfound in small (ppm) levels in the
sulphidic ores of lead, zincand copper,
although occasionally levels of 100 ppm have beenfound in deep thermal deposits of zinc.Germanium is highlyconcentrated in some
coals, about 500 ppm.
The highestreservoirs, worldwide, of Germanium are found in
Tsumeb(formerlyGerman South West Africa)andKipushi (Zaire),
with concentrations reaching 1000 ppm.
Technological Applications of Germanium
Several investigators studied microbial, medicinal andbotanical effects of Germanium during the 1920′s and 30′s,but until 1948, Germanium was mainly relegated to thestatus of a rare element. Radar engineering prior to thesecond World War had led to theuse of crystal detectorsbased upon theuse of germanium crystals, and in 1948,Germanium was plucked from obscurity into the limelight by