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Germanium is a grayish-white metalloid and was discovered by the Germany chemist Clemens Winkler in 1886. Germanium is a relatively scarce metal recovered from coal ashes and a by-product of zinc mining.
Germanium’s major end uses are in fibre-optic systems, infrared optics and in solar cell applications. Germanium compounds are also used for polymerization catalysts and have most recently found use in the production of nanowires. This element forms a large number of organometallic compounds, such as tetraethylgermane, which are useful in organometallic chemistry.