32Ge Germanium

Year Discovered


Discovered By

Clemens Winkler of Germany

Biological Rating

Not necessary for life.


Named for the country of Germany, germanium is not considered a metal, despite its metallic grayish-white appearance. It is a metalloid. It is a brittle and stable element, being unaffected by air or water, acids or alkalis. Germanium has semiconductor properties, and its main use is in transistors. It was the first element used to construct transistors and semiconductors, and has a  use in fiber-optic components. It is also used in metal alloys, in fluorescent lamps and as a chemical catalyst. Germanium is transparent to infrared radiation and is used in infrared equipment.

Biological Benefits

Germanium is not believed to be biologically necessary, but it is believed to be useful in the function of the immune system. It also affects human metabolism.

Role in Life Processes

No known benefits in life processes, but has medical benefits and may be required for full health.

Percentage Amount in the Human Body: 0.000007%


Germanium, like gallium, is rarely found in minerals except in trace amounts. Also like gallium, germanium is obtained as a by-product of mining and processing zinc and copper. Argyrodite and germanite are rare germanium-bearing minerals.