When doped with small amounts of arsenic, gallium, indium, antimony or phosphorus, germanium is used to make transistors for use in electronic devices. Germanium is also used to create alloys and as a phosphor in fluorescent lamps.
Pure germanium is a hard, lustrous, gray-white, brittle metalloid. It has a diamondlike crystalline structure and it is similar in chemical and physical properties to silicon. Germanium is stable in air and water, and is unaffected by alkalis and acids, except nitric acid.
Germanium is a relatively inactive element. It does not dissolve in water and does not react with oxygen at room temperature. It does dissolve in hot acids and with oxygen at high temperatures, however. It becomes more active when finely divided. It will combine with chlorine and bromine to form germanium chloride (GeCl 4 ) and germanium bromide (GeBr 4 ).
Germanium is another element that was predicted by Mendeleev in 1871.
Winkler decided to name this new element after the newly discovered planet Neptune, but the name was already taken so he named germanium after his home country of Germany instead.
Germanium is found in the Earth's crust at about 1.6 parts per million.
Germanium didn't become a useful element until 1945, when researchers discovered its excellent semiconducting properties.
Germanium has been found in the atmosphere of Jupiter and in distant stars.
Practitioners have used germanium to treat anemia, but it's not allowed as a nutritional supplement by the FDA. Germanium was thought to have antibacterial properties, but it is not recognized for that use. It was also believed to be a treatment for cancer, but that has also been disallowed.