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Gallium and Germanium

2023 JUL 12

Preliminary   > Science and Technology   >   Energy   >   Resource geography

Why in news?

  • China has recently announced that it will impose export controls on gallium and germanium, which are essential for semiconductor manufacturing, starting from August 1, 2023.
  • This action is seen as a response to export controls implemented by the United States, Japan, and the Netherlands, who express national security concerns and accuse China of military use and human rights violations.

What is Gallium?

  • It is a soft, silvery-white metal that is liquid near room temperature.
  • It is not found as a free element and is only present in small quantities in certain minerals, such as zinc ores and bauxite.
  • Gallium is used to make gallium arsenide, which is a core substrate for semiconductors.
  • It is utilized in the production of semiconductor wafers, integrated circuits, mobile and satellite communications (in chipsets), and LEDs (in displays).
  • Gallium also finds applications in automotive and lighting industries, as well as in sensors for avionic, space, and defense systems.

What is Germanium?

  • It is a lustrous, hard, silvery-white semi-metal with a crystal structure similar to a diamond.
  • Germanium is used in various electronic and optical applications.
  • It is commonly used in fiber-optic cables and infrared imaging devices.
  • Germanium enhances the ability to operate weapon systems in harsh conditions.
  • It is also used in solar cells due to its heat resistance and higher energy conversion efficiency.


Consider the following pairs:

Metals           : Commonly used in

1. Germanium            : Fiber-optic cables

2. Gallium       :  Semiconductors

3. Cobalt         : Lithium-ion battery cathodes

How many of the pairs given above is/are correct?

(a) Only one pair

(b) Only two pairs

(c) All the three pairs

(d) None of the pairs