A replica of the first transistor - a PNP point contact germanium transistor - the birth of the Information Age!

Facts about Germanium:

  • Germanium: A brittle silvery-grey metalloid
  • Fun fact about Germanium: Germanium "ice cubes"! Germanium is one of the very few materials (like water) where the solid will float on the liquid form.
  • Chemical symbol: Ge
  • Atomic number: 32

A crystal structure containing Germanium:

Crystal structure of Germanium-Silicon clusters

Facts about this structure:

  • Formula: C31 H88 Ge9 O Si12
  • Structure name: tris(tris(trimethylsilyl)silyl)-((isopropyl)carbonyl)-nona-germanium
  • Fun fact about the structure: Germanium clusters could be used as building blocks for nanotechnology.  In this case there are nine germanium atoms in each cluster surrounded by 12 silicons.
  • CSD refcode: DEYJID (What's this?)
  • Associated publication: Sabine Frischhut, Wilhelm Klein, Markus Drees, Thomas F. Fässler, Chemistry-A European Journal,  2018, 24, 9009, DOI: 10.1002/chem.201802318

More info:

Germanium, like Gallium, was an element that confirmed the utility of the Periodic Table, as Mendeleev predicted its properties in 1869, and these were confirmed in 1886. The discoverer, Clemens Winkler, wanted to call it neptunium as the planet had also been discovered based on predictions, but that name was already in use. He settled on his newly-formed (1871) home country instead.  Germanum is quite rare, being found in a few blendes and ores, but also in small quantities in coal. This is thought to be because some plants concentrate germanium and presumably so did the plants of the Carboniferous period.  Germanium was critical for the first wave of semiconductors until replaced by silicon in the 1970s, but is still used for very high-performance devices such as quantum computers. Some germanium oxides are opaque to light but transparent to infra-red, so are used as windows and lenses for night vision and thermal imaging.
Sources:, wikipedia

More info about the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT) in crystals project:

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If you want to find out more about some of the terms and concepts we have a Frequently Asked Questions Page.

A visualisation showing the structure containing Germanium alongside other structures published in the same scientific article: