Germanium ionization detectors with sensitivities as low as 100.eV(ee) (electron-equivalent energy) open new windows for studies on neutrino and dark matter physics. The relevant physics subjects are summarized. The detectors have to measure physics signals whose amplitude is comparable to that of pedestal electronic noise. To fully exploit this new detector technique, various experimental issues including quenching factors, energy reconstruction and calibration, signal triggering and selection as well as evaluation of their associated efficiencies have to be attended. The efforts and results of a research program to address these challenges are presented. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.