26 October 2010


Germanium market to exceed 126,400kg by 2015

The global market for germanium is forecast to exceed 126,400kg by 2015, fueled by expected growth in the world economy and increased use of germanium across various end-use sectors, according to a new report ‘Germanium: A Global Strategic Business Report’ from market research firm Global Industry Analysts Inc (GIA).

The economic recession across global markets in 2008–2009 derailed various end-use applications of germanium and dented the prospects of the market, says the firm. However, with a recovery in the global economic situation in 2010 and an improving end-use market scenario, the germanium market is poised to gain momentum and register healthy growth over the coming years.

The germanium market is extremely dynamic and volatile. Material supply is primarily dependant on zinc mining, while demand for the mineral closely follows changes in end-use industries, e.g. the significant drop in fiber-optic systems and electronics/solar applications in 2008–2009 resulted in a notable drop in overall germanium demand.

During 2008 and 2009, the financial crisis considerably weakened demand in the USA (the largest regional market for germanium worldwide, with fiber-optic systems being the major end-use segment). However, demand in the USA is expected to show a moderate recovery through 2010 and gain momentum from 2011 onwards. Europe is the second largest market for germanium. In terms of growth, Asia-Pacific is expected to show the fastest growth through 2015. After fiber-optic systems, infrared optics and polymerization catalysts are the next biggest end-use categories.

As a substitute for gallium arsenide (GaAs), germanium can be used in optoelectronic devices including light-emitting diodes (LEDs), says GIA. Also, integrated circuits made incorporating silicon-germanium (SiGe) contributed to the development of many multi-function devices such as PDAs and data-enabled mobile phones. Germanium substrates are cheaper and available at just half the price of 4-inch GaAs wafers. However, although this is significant in the market, where price pressures are intensive, it translates to just a few percent difference in an end-product including LEDs. Nevertheless, the availability of 6” and 8” germanium wafers in future should enable products to be available at much lower price, concludes GIA.

Major players profiled in the report include Germanium Corporation of America, GFI Advanced Technologies Inc, Japan Algae Co Ltd, N.V Umicore SA, Novotech Inc, Recylex S.A., Teck Cominco Ltd, Umicore Optical Materials USA Inc, Umicore Optics, and Yunnan Chihong Zinc-Germanium Co Ltd.

See related items:

Belgium’s Umicore opens US germanium wafer plant, bolstering 6” capability

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