Germanium is a very hard and grayish-white semimetal that is similar to both tin and silicon. These germaniums are relatively rare, but they play in important role as semiconductors, according to Georgia State University. Geranium tends to be more conductive than silicon and has more free electrons. Diodes are usually used to convert energy from one form to another, usually from an alternating current to a direct current or from one radio frequency to another. The diodes are passive devices that do not produce power but instead only consume power.
Diodes are used very commonly for alternative energy systems, such as solar panels and wind turbines. Germanium diodes can be used by solar panels to prevent energy from being radiated back into the night sky, according to Renewable Energy. Germanium diodes are used by wind turbines to turn alternating currents into direct currents. Usually, silicone diodes are used. But a lot of the voltage in the silicone diode is lost to heat, which is especially a problem when an electrical system has very low voltage. Germanium diodes have a much lower voltage drop, causing this kind of diode to be very efficient.
Germanium diodes tend to be some of the cheapest diodes around because they are not commonly used, according to Renewable Energy. However, they can be very difficult diodes to find; if you want to use them, you will often have to search for vintage stock of electronics parts.
Germanium diodes are also good for very high resistance and high conductive situations for very easy coupling and clamping, according to NTE Electronics, Inc. They also have good forward and inverse pulse recovery. Their continuous inverse operating voltage is 80 volts. Peak reverse voltage is 100 volts. The forward voltage drop is one volt.
The germanium diodes can handle a very broad range of temperatures. They can usually operate at temperatures that range from -78 degrees Celsius to 100 degrees Celsius, according to NTE Electronics, Inc. However, the increase in temperature decreases the amount of inverse voltage that can travel through the diode.
Like all diodes, germanium diodes are two terminal devices. The diode current is directly related to voltage. They also encourage the flow of currents in one direction while discouraging the flow of currents in another direction, according to Bucknell University. A lot of positive voltage can flow through the germanium diode when the amount of voltage is great enough, but almost no negative voltage flows through the germanium diode at all.