The economic recession across global markets during the years 2008 and 2009 derailed various end-use applications of germanium and dented the prospects of the market.
However, with the recovery of global economic situation in 2010 and improving end-use market scenario, germanium market is poised to gain momentum and register healthy growth over the coming years. Global germanium market is extremely dynamic and volatile. Germanium supply is primarily dependant on zinc mining, while the demand for the mineral closely varies with changes in the end-use industries. For instance, significant drop in fiber optic systems and electronics/solar applications during 2008 and 2009 resulted in noticeable fall in overall germanium demand.
The United States represents the largest regional market for Germanium worldwide, as stated by the new market research report on Germanium. The financial crisis considerably weakened the demand for germanium in the US during the crisis period of 2008 & 2009. Going forward, germanium demand in the US is expected to witness moderate recovery through 2010 and gain momentum from 2011 onwards. Fiber Optic Systems represent the major end-use segment for germanium in the US. Europe represents the second largest market for germanium worldwide. In terms of growth, Asia-Pacific is portended to register fastest growth through 2015. Fiber Optic Systems category constitutes the largest end-use segment of germanium market. Infrared Optics and Polymerization Catalysts represents the other major end-use segments of germanium.
Germanium, due to its inherent properties, is widely employed as a catalyst and substitute for several metals. New findings state that germanium, as a substitute for gallium arsenide (GaAs), can be used in optoelectronic devices including advanced Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Series of chips made from SiGe has led 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. This is significant in the market, where price pressures are more intensive, though it translates to a few percent in an end product including LED. The availability of 6” and 8” germanium wafers in future will enable products availability at much lesser price.
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 Limited, Umicore Optical Materials USA Inc., Umicore Optics, and Yunnan Chihong Zinc-Germanium Co. Ltd.