top of page


Germanium Facts

Discovered in 1866 by C.A. Winkler in Freiberg, Germany, it occurs in sulphides, particularly zinc ores and is obtained from certain flue dusts. It has a structure similar to that of diamond.

Germanium is a metalloid having some non-metallic characteristics. In its ultrapure form germanium is silvery white and very brittle.

It is oxidized by heating in air and combines with chlorine on heating. It is unaffected by acids except HNO3 and alkalis.

Until its electrical properties had been identified it had very little use. It is used in semiconductors, alloys and special glasses for infrared devices.

Atomic no.
Relative Atomic Mass
Melting Point
Boiling Point
Electrical Resistivity
Young's Modulus
Heat Capacity
Thermal Conductivity
937.4 °C
2833 °C
5323 kg/m3
1 Ω⋅m
103 GPa
23.2 J/K⋅mol
1.8 ppm
59.9 W/m⋅K

The global market size of Germanium is around 130mt per year, the smallest of all electronic metals. China produces 60% of global Germanium, with other major producers being Russia, Canada, USA and Belgium.


A third of the global Germanium demand comes from the production of fibre optic cables, in which Germanium tetrachloride is added as a dopant to increase the refractive index of the glass core of fibre-optic lines. This reduces signal loss. Find out more about Germanium's use in optical fibre which is critical to wireless 5G infrastructure here.

Broadly, Germanium metal can be divided into two types: Monocrystal, and Polycrystal. The different crystal structures affect the metals resistivity.


Monocrystal Germanium metal has a lower resistivity of 5-40ohm, and is used in infrared optical lenses of thermal imaging in military, firefighting and high-end consumer electronics applications. Infrared optics comprise around a third of the total Germanium market, with over half accounted for by the military sector. Read our article: Germanium's applications in infrared detectors.

Polycrystal Germanium metal has a higher resistivity of around 50ohm, and is used in non-optic applications, such as semiconductors in electronics such as memory chips, where it is added to Silicon. Previously, pure Germanium metal semiconductors used as transistors were doped with other metals to which alter its electrical properties such as  Phosphorous, Arsenic, Antimony and Bismuth for N-type semiconductors, Boron, Aluminium, Gallium, Thallium and Indium for P-types. However, newer technologies have replaced Germanium with other materials. Read our article on the next generation of semiconductors which are used for 5G.

One major application of Germanium dioxide is in polymerisation catalysts in the production of PET plastics, which are used in food containers.

The Germanium coming out of Russia and the CIS has mainly been in the form of GeO2, a white, free flowing powder, and scrap of optical equipment as well as ex-stockpiled prime Germanium bar.

Ukrainian material is usually in the form of trapezoid bars and Russian origin material is generally loaf-shaped in cross-section with a ridge along the back of the bar.

We can accept:- Polycrystalline Uniform Trapezoid bars and Monocrystal metal scrap in various forms. Please advise form, weight per form, typical purity and packing. If material is Polycrystal full length bars, please ensure careful packing to avoid breakages.

More articles 

How the Covid virus propelled germanium into the limelight  

bottom of page