What Is the Difference Between Silicon and Germanium?


September 9, 2022

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Despite having relatively similar chemical properties, silicon and germanium are used quite differently. Both germanium wafer and silicon are used in electronics. However, silicon is far purer than germanium, making it a better material for computer chips. While this might be an apparent difference, there are other noticeable instances. Here's the difference between silicon and germanium.    

Germanium wafer under a microscope

Silicon vs Germanium  


Their atomic numbers are the primary distinction between the two metals. The first is 14, silicon, and the second is 32, which is germanium. The abbreviations Si and Ge, which stand for "silicon" and "germanium," are also used to refer to the two metals.  

Uses in the Industry  

Although silicon is less expensive than germanium, it still has more value. This is because silicon has a more robust heat resistance than germanium and is considerably easier to produce. While cheaper than its competitor, germanium is more valuable and easier to process.  

Resistance and Value  

Since silicon can withstand temperatures of up to 150 degrees Celsius, excessive heat does not as quickly harm its constituent parts. On the other hand, the structure of germanium is damaged at roughly 100 degrees Celsius, and the maximum average operating temperature for germanium is only 70 degrees Celsius.    

A silicon diode's PIV value is almost 1000 V, which is larger than the value for germanium diodes. The preload of silicon diodes is higher than that of germanium diodes, which is a drawback compared to germanium. Either way, silicon, and germanium are materials that have different applications in the industry.  

Germanium wafer in the making

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