announcement

Share facts or photos of intriguing scientific phenomena.

Germanium Uses

Germanium Uses

Germanium is used for industrial and medicinal purpose. This article sheds some light on the same.
Leena Palande
The symbol Ge represents germanium, which is a chemical element. Clemens Winkler from Germany, discovered it in the year 1886. It is a metalloid, which means, it carries the properties of metals, as well as, non-metals. This chemical element has several uses in the medicinal and industrial sector.
Facts
Atomic Number 32
Atomic Mass 72.63 amu
Number of Protons/Electrons 32
Number of Neutrons 42
Melting Point 938.25 ºC, 1720.85 ºF, 1211.4 K
Boiling Point 2833 ºC, 5131.4 ºF, 3106.15 K
Density @ 20 ºC 5.323 g/cm3
Crystal Structure Cubic
Color gray-white
Industrial Uses
This element has two main properties: high index of refraction and low optical dispersion. Therefore, it is commonly used in wide-angle camera lenses, microscope lenses, and for the core part of optical fibers. Since it can carry an electric charge, it is largely used in semiconductor industry. This element is also used as an alloying agent in several ways. Germanium is commonly used in infra-red spectroscopes and various optical equipment. It is most commonly used in fiber optics and infra-red optics. It is also used in electric guitar amplifiers, transistors, calculators, computers, etc., and various electronics and solar electric applications. It is used in catalysts for polymerization. It is also used as a phosphor in fluorescent lamps. Its uses in metallurgy and chemotherapy are also well known. High purity germanium single crystal detectors are helpful in maintaining airport security.
Medicinal Uses
Earlier (in 1920s), inorganic form of this element was used to treat anemia and some other diseases. FDA found out that this form of germanium was responsible for serious health hazards. Patients taking such doses were affected by renal dysfunction, liver problems, and peripheral neuropathy. Several deaths were reported, and hence the use of inorganic germanium in medicines was banned.
Propagermanium or organic germanium or beta-carboxyethylgermanium sesquioxide, helps prevent various diseases and disorders by strengthening the immune system. It does not exhibit toxicity, when used in complementary medicines. It is believed that it helps improve the immune system function, especially, in cancer patients. It is sold in the US as a nonprescription dietary supplement in the form of capsules, tablets, or injections.
Organic form of this element has also been used to boost low energy levels. It is used to treat eye problems like cataracts. It is not only used to treat cancer, but also used to treat AIDS, heart diseases, arthritis, etc.
Precautions before Taking the Tablets
A physician can guide you regarding the reliable brand and correct dosage. Some products with harmful ingredients or additives have been already detected. So, consult your physician before taking germanium tablets for health benefits. The products do not carry FDA approval regarding safety or effectiveness. If you don't notice any health benefits, or if you notice any kind of mild or severe side effects, you should immediately seek medical help. An overdose may lead to health complications. The element may interact with other routine medications like water pills and cause serious side effects. So, it is necessary to inform your doctor about your routine medications. Immediate medical attention is required if the side effects such as change in the amount of urine, feeling of extreme tiredness, dizziness, or tingling of the hands or feet, etc., are observed.
The physician can guide you well regarding the dosage, after assessing your overall health. You should follow the instructions on the label, as well as the guidelines given by your medical adviser to avert any side effect.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.