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Ball-and-stick model of the germane molecule Germane-3D-balls-A.png
Ball-and-stick model of the germane molecule
Space-filling model of the germane molecule Germane-3D-vdW.png
Space-filling model of the germane molecule
IUPAC name
Other names
Germanium tetrahydride
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.029.055 OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
EC Number
  • 231-961-6
PubChem CID
RTECS number
  • LY4900000
UN number 2192
  • InChI=1S/GeH4/h1H4 Yes check.svgY
  • InChI=1/GeH4/h1H4
  • [H][Ge]([H])([H])[H]
Molar mass 76.62 g/mol
AppearanceColorless gas
Odor Pungent [1]
Density 3.3 kg/m3
Melting point −165 °C (−265 °F; 108 K)
Boiling point −88 °C (−126 °F; 185 K)
Vapor pressure >1 atm [1]
Viscosity 17.21 μPa·s
(theoretical estimate) [2]
0  D
Occupational safety and health (OHS/OSH):
Main hazards
Toxic, flammable, may ignite spontaneously in air
GHS labelling:
GHS-pictogram-flamme.svg GHS-pictogram-bottle.svg GHS-pictogram-skull.svg GHS-pictogram-exclam.svg
H220, H280, H302, H330
P210, P260, P264, P270, P271, P284, P301+P312, P304+P340, P310, P320, P330, P377, P381, P403, P403+P233, P405, P410+P403, P501
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
NIOSH (US health exposure limits):
PEL (Permissible)
None [1]
REL (Recommended)
TWA 0.2 ppm (0.6 mg/m3) [1]
IDLH (Immediate danger)
N.D. [1]
Safety data sheet (SDS) ICSC 1244
Related compounds
Related compounds
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Yes check.svgY  verify  (what is  Yes check.svgYX mark.svgN ?)

Germane is the chemical compound with the formula Ge H4, and the germanium analogue of methane. It is the simplest germanium hydride and one of the most useful compounds of germanium. Like the related compounds silane and methane, germane is tetrahedral. It burns in air to produce GeO2 and water. Germane is a group 14 hydride.



Germane has been detected in the atmosphere of Jupiter. [3]


Germane is typically prepared by reduction of germanium oxides, notably germanates, with hydride reagents such as sodium borohydride, potassium borohydride, lithium borohydride, lithium aluminium hydride, sodium aluminium hydride. The reaction with borohydrides is catalyzed by various acids and can be carried out in either aqueous or organic solvent. On laboratory scale, germane can be prepared by the reaction of Ge(IV) compounds with these hydride reagents. [4] [5] A typical synthesis involved the reaction of potassium germanate with sodium borohydride. [6]

NaHGeO3 + KBH4 + H2O → KGeH3 + KB(OH)4
KGeH3 + HO2CCH3 → GeH4 + KO2CCH3

Other methods for the synthesis of germane include electrochemical reduction and a plasma-based method. [7] The electrochemical reduction method involves applying voltage to a germanium metal cathode immersed in an aqueous electrolyte solution and an anode counter-electrode composed of a metal such as molybdenum or cadmium. In this method, germane and hydrogen gases evolve from the cathode while the anode reacts to form solid molybdenum oxide or cadmium oxides. The plasma synthesis method involves bombarding germanium metal with hydrogen atoms (H) that are generated using a high frequency plasma source to produce germane and digermane.


Germane is weakly acidic. In liquid ammonia GeH4 is ionised forming NH4+ and GeH3. [8] With alkali metals in liquid ammonia GeH4 reacts to give white crystalline MGeH3 compounds. The potassium (potassium germyl KGeH3) and rubidium compounds (rubidium germyl RbGeH3) have the sodium chloride structure implying a free rotation of the GeH3 anion, the caesium compound, CsGeH3 in contrast has the distorted sodium chloride structure of TlI. [8]

Use in semiconductor industry

The gas decomposes near 600K (327°C; 620°F) to germanium and hydrogen. Because of its thermal lability, germane is used in the semiconductor industry for the epitaxial growth of germanium by MOVPE or chemical beam epitaxy. [9] Organogermanium precursors (e.g. isobutylgermane, alkylgermanium trichlorides, and dimethylaminogermanium trichloride) have been examined as less hazardous liquid alternatives to germane for deposition of Ge-containing films by MOVPE. [10]


Germane is a highly flammable, potentially pyrophoric, [11] and a highly toxic gas. In 1970, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) published the latest changes and set the occupational exposure threshold limit value at 0.2 ppm for an 8-hour time weighted average. [12] The LC50 for rats at 1 hour of exposure is 622 ppm. [13] Inhalation or exposure may result in malaise, headache, dizziness, fainting, dyspnea, nausea, vomiting, kidney injury, and hemolytic effects. [14] [15] [16]

The US Department of Transportation hazard class is 2.3 Poisonous Gas. [12]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Germanium</span> Chemical element, symbol Ge and atomic number 32

Germanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ge and atomic number 32. It is lustrous, hard-brittle, grayish-white and similar in appearance to silicon. It is a metalloid in the carbon group that is chemically similar to its group neighbors silicon and tin. Like silicon, germanium naturally reacts and forms complexes with oxygen in nature.

In chemistry, a hydride is formally the anion of hydrogen( H). The term is applied loosely. At one extreme, all compounds containing covalently bound H atoms are called hydrides: water (H2O) is a hydride of oxygen, ammonia is a hydride of nitrogen, etc. For inorganic chemists, hydrides refer to compounds and ions in which hydrogen is covalently attached to a less electronegative element. In such cases, the H centre has nucleophilic character, which contrasts with the protic character of acids. The hydride anion is very rarely observed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Potassium hydroxide</span> Inorganic compound (KOH)

Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the formula KOH, and is commonly called caustic potash.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arsine</span> Chemical compound

Arsine (IUPAC name: arsane) is an inorganic compound with the formula AsH3. This flammable, pyrophoric, and highly toxic pnictogen hydride gas is one of the simplest compounds of arsenic. Despite its lethality, it finds some applications in the semiconductor industry and for the synthesis of organoarsenic compounds. The term arsine is commonly used to describe a class of organoarsenic compounds of the formula AsH3−xRx, where R = aryl or alkyl. For example, As(C6H5)3, called triphenylarsine, is referred to as "an arsine".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Diborane</span> Chemical compound

Diborane(6), generally known as diborane, is the chemical compound with the formula B2H6. It is a toxic, colorless, and pyrophoric gas with a repulsively sweet odor. Diborane is a key boron compound with a variety of applications. It has attracted wide attention for its electronic structure. Several of its derivatives are useful reagents.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Decaborane</span> Chemical compound

Decaborane, also called decaborane(14), is the borane with the chemical formula B10H14. This white crystalline compound is one of the principal boron hydride clusters, both as a reference structure and as a precursor to other boron hydrides. It is toxic and volatile, with a foul odor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sodium borohydride</span> Chemical compound

Sodium borohydride, also known as sodium tetrahydridoborate and sodium tetrahydroborate, is an inorganic compound with the formula NaBH4. This white solid, usually encountered as an aqueous basic solution, is a reducing agent that finds application in papermaking and dye industries. It is also used as a reagent in organic synthesis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Antimony trioxide</span> Chemical compound

Antimony(III) oxide is the inorganic compound with the formula Sb2O3. It is the most important commercial compound of antimony. It is found in nature as the minerals valentinite and senarmontite. Like most polymeric oxides, Sb2O3 dissolves in aqueous solutions with hydrolysis. A mixed arsenic-antimony oxide occurs in nature as the very rare mineral stibioclaudetite.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lithium hydride</span> Chemical compound

Lithium hydride is an inorganic compound with the formula LiH. This alkali metal hydride is a colorless solid, although commercial samples are grey. Characteristic of a salt-like (ionic) hydride, it has a high melting point, and it is not soluble but reactive with all protic organic solvents. It is soluble and nonreactive with certain molten salts such as lithium fluoride, lithium borohydride, and sodium hydride. With a molar mass of 7.95 g/mol, it is the lightest ionic compound.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metalorganic vapour-phase epitaxy</span> Method of producing thin films (polycrystalline and single crystal)

Metalorganic vapour-phase epitaxy (MOVPE), also known as organometallic vapour-phase epitaxy (OMVPE) or metalorganic chemical vapour deposition (MOCVD), is a chemical vapour deposition method used to produce single- or polycrystalline thin films. It is a process for growing crystalline layers to create complex semiconductor multilayer structures. In contrast to molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE), the growth of crystals is by chemical reaction and not physical deposition. This takes place not in vacuum, but from the gas phase at moderate pressures. As such, this technique is preferred for the formation of devices incorporating thermodynamically metastable alloys, and it has become a major process in the manufacture of optoelectronics, such as Light-emitting diodes. It was invented in 1968 at North American Aviation Science Center by Harold M. Manasevit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Organogermanium compound</span>

Organogermanium compounds are organometallic compounds containing a carbon to germanium or hydrogen to germanium chemical bond. Organogermanium chemistry is the corresponding chemical science. Germanium shares group 14 in the periodic table with silicon, tin and lead, and not surprisingly the chemistry of organogermanium is in between that of organosilicon compounds and organotin compounds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Isobutylgermane</span> Chemical compound

Isobutylgermane (IBGe, Chemical formula: (CH3)2CHCH2GeH3, is an organogermanium compound. It is a colourless, volatile liquid that is used in MOVPE (Metalorganic Vapor Phase Epitaxy) as an alternative to germane. IBGe is used in the deposition of Ge films and Ge-containing thin semiconductor films such as SiGe in strained silicon application, and GeSbTe in NAND Flash applications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plumbane</span> Chemical compound

Plumbane, PbH4, is a metal hydride and group 14 hydride composed of lead and hydrogen. Plumbane is not well characterized or well known, and it is thermodynamically unstable with respect to the loss of a hydrogen atom. Derivatives of plumbane include lead tetrafluoride, PbF4, and tetraethyllead, (CH3CH2)4Pb.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Germanate</span>

In chemistry, germanate is a compound containing an oxyanion of germanium. In the naming of inorganic compounds it is a suffix that indicates a polyatomic anion with a central germanium atom, for example potassium hexafluorogermanate, K2GeF6.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Digermane</span> Chemical compound

Digermane is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula Ge2H6. One of the few hydrides of germanium, it is a colourless liquid. Its molecular geometry is similar to ethane.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sodium germanate</span> Chemical compound

Sodium germanate is an inorganic compound with the formula Na2GeO3. It is a colorless solid. Sodium germanate is primarily used for the synthesis of other germanium compounds.

Group 14 hydrides are chemical compounds composed of hydrogen atoms and group 14 atoms.

Germyl, trihydridogermanate(1-), trihydrogermanide, trihydridogermyl or according to IUPAC Red Book: germanide is an anion containing germanium bounded with three hydrogens, with formula GeH−3. Germyl is the IUPAC term for the –GeH3 group. For less electropositive elements the bond can be considered covalent rather than ionic as "germanide" indicates. Germanide is the base for germane when it loses a proton.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chlorine-free germanium processing</span>

Chlorine-free germanium processing are methods of germanium activation to form useful germanium precursors in a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly way. Germanium tetrachloride is a valuable intermediate for the synthesis of many germanium complexes. Normal synthesis of it involves an energy-intensive dehydration of germanium oxide, , with hydrogen chloride, Due to the environmental and safety impact of non-recyclable, high energy reactions with , an alternative synthesis of a shelf-stable germanium intermediate precursor without chlorine is of interest. Recently a synthesis of organogermanes, without using chloride species has been reported, allowing for a much more environmentally friendly and low energy synthesis using , , and even selectively activating germanium in the presence of zinc oxide, resulting in products that are bench stable and solid.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. "#0300". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  2. Yaws, Carl L. (1997), Handbook Of Viscosity: Volume 4: Inorganic Compounds And Elements, Gulf Professional Publishing, ISBN   978-0123958501
  3. Kunde, V.; Hanel, R.; Maguire, W.; Gautier, D.; Baluteau, J. P.; Marten, A.; Chedin, A.; Husson, N.; Scott, N. (1982). "The tropospheric gas composition of Jupiter's north equatorial belt (NH3, PH3, CH3D, GeH4, H2O) and the Jovian D/H isotopic ratio". Astrophysical Journal. 263: 443–467. Bibcode:1982ApJ...263..443K. doi:10.1086/160516.
  4. W. L. Jolly "Preparation of the Volatile Hydrides of Groups IVA and VA by Means of Aqueous Hydroborate" Journal of the American Chemical Society 1961, volume 83, pp. 335-7.
  5. US Patent 4,668,502
  6. Girolami, G. S.; Rauchfuss, T. B.; Angelici, R. J. (1999). Synthesis and Technique in Inorganic Chemistry. Mill Valley, CA: University Science Books.
  7. US Patent 7,087,102 (2006)
  8. 1 2 Greenwood, Norman N.; Earnshaw, Alan (1997). Chemistry of the Elements (2nd ed.). Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN   978-0-08-037941-8.
  9. Venkatasubramanian, R.; Pickett, R. T.; Timmons, M. L. (1989). "Epitaxy of germanium using germane in the presence of tetramethylgermanium". Journal of Applied Physics . 66 (11): 5662–5664. Bibcode:1989JAP....66.5662V. doi:10.1063/1.343633.
  10. Woelk, E.; Shenai-Khatkhate, D. V.; DiCarlo, R. L. Jr.; Amamchyan, A.; Power, M. B.; Lamare, B.; Beaudoin, G.; Sagnes, I. (2006). "Designing Novel Organogermanium MOVPE Precursors for High-purity Germanium Films". Journal of Crystal Growth. 287 (2): 684–687. Bibcode:2006JCrGr.287..684W. doi:10.1016/j.jcrysgro.2005.10.094.
  11. Brauer, 1963, Vol.1, 715
  12. 1 2 Praxair MSDS Archived 2012-05-08 at the Wayback Machine accessed Sep. 2011
  13. NIOSH Germane Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS)accessed Sep. 2011
  14. Gus'kova, E. I. (1974). "K toksikologii Gidrida Germaniia" [Toxicology of germanium hydride]. Gigiena Truda I Professionalnye Zabolevaniia (in Russian). 18 (2): 56–57. PMID   4839911.
  15. US EPA Germane
  16. Paneth, F.; Joachimoglu, G. (1924). "Über die pharmakologischen Eigenschaften des Zinnwasserstoffs und Germaniumwasserstoffs" [About the pharmacological characteristics of tin hydride and germanium hydride]. Berichte der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft (in German). 57 (10): 1925–1930. doi:10.1002/cber.19240571027.