Germanium: From Its Discovery to SiGe Devices

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Germanium, element No.32, was discovered in 1886 by Clemens Winkler. Its first broad application was in the form of point contact Schottky diodes for radar reception during WWII. The addition of a closely spaced second contact led to the first all-solid-state electronic amplifier device, the transistor. The relatively low bandgap, the lack of a stable oxide and large surface state densities relegated germanium to the number 2 position behind silicon. The discovery of the lithium drift process, which made possible the formation of p-i-n diodes with fully depletable i-regions several centimeters thick, led germanium to new prominence as the premier ... continued below

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Haller, E.E. June 14, 2006.

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Germanium, element No.32, was discovered in 1886 by Clemens Winkler. Its first broad application was in the form of point contact Schottky diodes for radar reception during WWII. The addition of a closely spaced second contact led to the first all-solid-state electronic amplifier device, the transistor. The relatively low bandgap, the lack of a stable oxide and large surface state densities relegated germanium to the number 2 position behind silicon. The discovery of the lithium drift process, which made possible the formation of p-i-n diodes with fully depletable i-regions several centimeters thick, led germanium to new prominence as the premier gamma-ray detector. The development of ultra-pure germanium yielded highly stable detectors which have remained unsurpassed in their performance. New acceptors and donors were discovered and the electrically active role of hydrogen was clearly established several years before similar findings in silicon. Lightly doped germanium has found applications as far infrared detectors and heavily Neutron Transmutation Doped (NTD) germanium is used in thermistor devices operating at a few milliKelvin. Recently germanium has been rediscovered by the silicon device community because of its superior electron and hole mobility and its ability to induce strains when alloyed with silicon. Germanium is again a mainstream electronic material.

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  • European Materials Research Society (E-MRS) 2006Spring Meeting, Nice, France, 5/29-6/2/2006

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  • Report No.: LBNL--60151
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 922705
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc899960

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  • June 14, 2006

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  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Oct. 31, 2016, 3:50 p.m.

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Haller, E.E. Germanium: From Its Discovery to SiGe Devices, article, June 14, 2006; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc899960/: accessed October 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.