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Semimetallic chemical element, chemical symbol Ge, atomic number 32. Germanium, which resembles silicon in its physical properties, is used especially in semiconductor devices. Discovered in 1886, it became economically significant after 1945 and remains of primary importance in the manufacture of transistors and of components for other devices such as rectifiers (seediode) and photocells. It is also used as a component of alloys, in phosphors for fluorescent lamps, and in the glasses of certain optical components, such as camera and microscope lenses.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on germanium, visit Britannica.com.