Germanium Causes Fiber Makers to See Green
Bell Labs, the Atlanta-based research and development arm of Lucent Technologies, has developed a recycling process that salvages germanium from the waste products of optical fiber manufacturing.
To make optical fiber, plants use vapors containing silicon and germanium. The vapors are subjected to high temperatures, causing a chemical reaction with oxygen that produces silicon oxide-germanium oxide glass. About 4 percent of the resulting fiber is germanium dioxide. Bell Labs is fine-tuning a method to recover more than 80 percent of the unused germanium; they recycle 70 percent now.
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