Since Germanium is almost identical to silicon when it comes to looks and appearance, it is often viewed as the "twin" of silicon because it reacts naturally and makes complexes with oxygen in nature just like silicon does. Additionally, germanium is one of the few chemical elements that expands as it solidifies ( freezes) from its molten state of being.
Germanium lenses are a special type of lense where rays cannot penetrate though the lenses and appears to black to the human eye. Since Germanium is a very expensive mineral, people are required to have special skills for polishing it to its highest precision. Germanium rarely occurs naturally, which is some of the reasons why its so expensive. However, Germanium can be made from coal that burns off and makes Germanium as a by-product, and zinc ores by processing dust from the flues of zinc smelters.
Using Germanium in solar panels can be very useful because it has similar isotopes to silicon, so that the current can be made with "free" elections that break away from the orbits of germanium atoms. Even though germanium is cheaper than silicon, it is still used in products such as camera lenses, inside cores of fiber- optic cables, microscope lenses, fluorescent lamps, and some LED lighting. Germanium isn't known to have health benefits, but there is research being conducted to see if it could be used to fight off cancer cells. However, Germanium is mainly used in optics and electronics.
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