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12th July 2023 (8 Topics)

China restricting exports of germanium and gallium

Context

China is restricting exports of two rare metals, germanium and gallium, which are key to the production of semiconductors and other high-tech products. 

Important facts about the metals

 

Germanium

Gallium

About

  • Germanium is a semi-metal.
  • It is a good element for use as semiconductors.
  • Gallium is a soft, silvery metal.
  • It has a low melting point which helps in the production of semiconductors and electronic components.

Usage:

  • It is used in fiber optics, infrared optics (night vision goggles), and solar cell technologies, and infrared sensors.
  • It is particularly used in the production of transistors and other semiconductor devices.
  • Medicinal use: Germanium has also been found to have some medicinal uses and is sometimes used as a dietary supplement.
  • It is used in the manufacture of integrated circuits, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and solar cells.
  • Medicinal use: There are some Gallium-based compounds which also have medical applications, including the treatment of certain types of cancers. 

 

China is the world's leading producer of both germanium and gallium. China is responsible for production of 60 per cent of the world's germanium and 80 per cent of the world's gallium. 

How would it impact?

  • These metals are essential for the production of semiconductors, which are used in everything from smartphones to computers to cars.
  • The restrictions could also lead to higher prices for these metals, which could make it more difficult for companies to produce high-tech products.
  • Impact on India
    • The move will impact semiconductor manufacturing across the globe. However, there will not be any abuse of supply chains.
    • The India-US Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) precisely ensures that there is no such control or abuse of supply chains.
      • iCET also covers materials.

About iCET

  • Launched in: 2023
  • It is a framework agreed upon by India and the U.S. for cooperation on critical and emerging technologies in areas including:
    • o    artificial intelligence
    • o    quantum computing
    • o    semiconductors
    • o    wireless telecommunication

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