Germanium price jum¥has minor impact on detector prices

April 1, 1996
Over the past year germanium prices have jumped from around $700/kg to the $2200-$2500/kg range. But because most infrared detectors use only a few grams of the material, cost increase is not a major concern, but availability might be. According to Fred Perry, president of Boston Electronics (Brookline, MA), germanium mining over the past three years was curtailed when China and Russia sold off Cold War stockpiles at low prices. Now, with these stocks depleted, the cost has jumped while producti

Germanium price jum¥has minor impact on detector prices

Over the past year germanium prices have jumped from around $700/kg to the $2200-$2500/kg range. But because most infrared detectors use only a few grams of the material, cost increase is not a major concern, but availability might be. According to Fred Perry, president of Boston Electronics (Brookline, MA), germanium mining over the past three years was curtailed when China and Russia sold off Cold War stockpiles at low prices. Now, with these stocks depleted, the cost has jumped while production has yet to catch u¥with demand. Detector uses are around 10% of the total germanium market. Infrared optics, a roughly 20% market segment, is seeing a greater cost impact--a single lens can consist of a kilogram of germanium. Also pushing u¥demand is the explosion in the optical-fiber market to 35%-40% of germanium use, an increase on the order of two to three times in the last five years.

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