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Why germanium is preferred over silicon for making semiconductor devices?

Posted by: Sahil on 08.01.2021

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Germanium which makes Ge more conductive as compared to Si. The energy gap for germanium is less (0.72eV ) than the energy gap of silicon (1.1eV). But the present trend is to use Silicon instead of Germanium in many devices like SMPS etc.


Silicon crystals have less free electrons than germanium crystals. However, silicon crystals can not easily be damaged by excessive heat. Peak inverse voltage ratings of silicon diodes are larger than germanium diodes. Si is less expensive due to the larger amount of elements.

Why is silicon preferred over germanium?

The back current in a Si diode is in the range of nanoamps. The same return current is in the microampere range for a Ge-based diode. While high power applications are taken into account, Si-based devices can tolerate high power (more than 50W) while Ge can only survive applications below 10W.

Germanium has a blocking voltage of only 50-70 V, while Si can withstand up to 100 V. Silicon is relatively easy and inexpensive to procure and process, while germanium is a rare material.

The temperature stability of silicon is good, it can withstand in the temperature range of typically 140 ° C to 180 ° C, while germanium is temperature sensitive only up to 70 ° C. Low voltage signal level. It loses only 0.2 V across the intersection.

It can easily be damaged by excessive voltage or current and can not handle power well.

What are the advantages of silicon over germanium?

Cost-effective: Silicon is relatively easy and inexpensive to procure and process, while germanium is a rare material that is typically found in copper, lead or silver deposits.

Due to its rarity, working with germanium is more expensive, making it harder (and sometimes more expensive) to find germanium diodes than silicon diodes.

Low reverse leakage current:  The reverse current in the silicon flows in the order of the nanoamperes with respect to the germanium in which the reverse current is in the order of microamperes, thus the non-conduction accuracy of the diode Ge in inverse polarization decreases.

While the diode Si retains its property to a greater extent, that is, it allows a negligible amount of current to pass.

High reverse breakdown voltage: The Si diode has a significant reverse breakdown voltage of about 70 to 100 V with respect to Ge which has a reverse breakdown voltage of about 50 V.

Good temperature stability: The temperature stability of the silicon is good, it can withstand a temperature range typically from 140 ° C to 180 ° C, while the germanium is sensitive to temperature only up to 70 ° C.

Large forward current: Silicon is much better for high current applications because it has a very high forward current in a range of ten amps, while germanium diodes have a very low on-state current in a range of microamps.

Germanium has less energy band gap than silicon.So it is more reactivate and it is preferred
The potential barrier of si is more compared to Ge.which makes Germanium more conductive as compared to silicon .at room temperature silicon crystal has free electron than Germanium.
The potential barrier of si is more compared to Ge.which makes Germanium more conductive as compared to silicon .at room temperature silicon crystal has free electron than Germanium.

It all depends on the for what application it is required. Germaniun is suitable for high current and high speed operation of device whereas silicon is preferred for its better thermal stability. i,e conductivity  & sensitivity of germanium is higher than that of silicon,.  

Moreover Silicon is  easy availabile on the earths surface as well as under the surface.


Because germanium has less energy bandgap than silicon, therefore germanium has better electrical conductivity than silicon

Germanium has more conductivity than silicon at a given temperature

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