China chokes exports of semiconductor secret sauces gallium and germanium

China chokes exports of semiconductor secret sauces gallium and germanium

Recently China announced export controls on two technology-critical critical elements, gallium (Ga) and germanium (Ge). The announcement has sent shockwaves across the globe.

However, this decision is being seen as retaliation for the recent steps taken by the western countries.

This could not only impact India’s ambition to become a semiconductor hub, but is also expected to impact its booming telecom and electric vehicle industries.

Gallium and Germanium:

  • Both of these elements are silvery white, and are usually classified as “minor minerals”.
  • Both these metals are not generally obtained in natural form. They are produced in small concentrations as a by-product from refineries focused on other, more mainstream raw materials such as zinc or alumina.
  • Germanium ores are rare and most germanium is a by-product of zinc production and coal fly ash.
  • China produces about 60% of the world’s germanium.
  • Uses of germanium include fiber optic communications, night vision goggles, and space exploration—most satellites are powered by germanium-based solar cells.
  • Gallium is found in small amounts in zinc ores and bauxite, and gallium metal is produced when bauxite is processed to make aluminum. About 80% of the production takes place in China.
  • Gallium is used in compound semiconductors, which link multiple elements to improve transmission speed and efficiency, in TV and mobile phone screens, solar panels, and radar.

Source – Business Standard

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