Germanium

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Germanium (play /ərˈmniəm/ jər-MAY-nee-əm) is a chemical element with the symbol Ge and atomic number 32. It is a lustrous, hard, grayish-white metalloid in the carbon group, chemically similar to its group neighbors tin and silicon. Germanium has five naturally occurring isotopes ranging in atomic mass number from 70 to 76. It forms a large number of organometallic compounds, including tetraethylgermane and isobutylgermane.

Germanium was discovered comparatively late because very few minerals contain it in high concentration. 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 eka-silicon. Nearly two decades later, in 1886, Clemens Winkler found it in the mineral argyrodite. Winkler found that experimental observations agreed with Mendeleev's predictions and named the element after his country, Germany.

Germanium is an important semiconductor material used in transistors and various other electronic devices. Its major end uses are fiber-optic systems and infrared optics, but it is also used for polymerization catalysts, and in electronics and solar cell applications. It is finding a new use in nanowires.

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