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Silicon vs Germanium – What’s the Difference

Silicon vs Germanium

The world of electronics has been continually evolving over the years, thanks to the emergence of semiconductors. Semiconductors have played a significant role in transforming electronic devices, and two important components – Silicon and Germanium – have been at the forefront of this revolution. This blog post will delve into the key differences between these two semiconductors and understand why Silicon has emerged as the industry’s preferred choice.

Difference Between Silicon and Germanium

Chemical Properties

Silicon and Germanium are metalloids, meaning they have properties of both metals and non-metals. They are in group 14 of the periodic table and have very similar chemical properties. For example, they form covalent bonds with other elements with similar electronegativities.

Physical Properties

Silicon and Germanium also have very similar physical properties. They are both grey, have a metallic lustre, and are brittle materials that break easily. They have similar melting and boiling points and expand at the same rate when heated.


Both Silicon and Germanium have a variety of uses. Silicon is used in computer chips and solar cells, while Germanium is used in fibre-optic cables and infrared detectors. Silicon is also used in cement and glass production, while Germanium is used as a catalyst in the production of plastics.


Silicon is the most abundant element on Earth, while Germanium is much less abundant. Silicon makes up about 28% of the Earth’s crust, while Germanium makes up only about 0.001%. This difference in abundance is due to the different ways the two elements are formed. Silicon is produced by volcanic activity, while the nuclear fusion of heavier elements produces Germanium.


Silicon is also much cheaper than Germanium. This is due to its abundance and wide range of uses. Germanium is much less abundant and has fewer uses, so it tends to be more expensive.


In conclusion, both Silicon and Germanium have played important roles in electronics, but Silicon has emerged as the industry’s preferred choice for many reasons. Silicon is more efficient, less expensive, and supported by many devices. In comparison, Germanium is slowly being phased out due to its limitations. As technology evolves and innovations emerge, who knows what the future holds for semiconductors? But for now, the battle of the semiconductors has undoubtedly been won by Silicon.

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