Interesting Gadolinium Element Facts

Chemical and Physical Properties of This Rare Earth Element

Element of Gadolinium with magnifying glass
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Gadolinium is one of the light rare earth elements belonging to the lanthanide series. Here are some interesting facts about this metal:

  1. Gadolinium is silvery, malleable, ductile metal with a metallic sheen. It is fluorescent and tends to have a faintly yellowish tint.
  2. Gadolinium, like other rare earth elements, is not found in pure form in nature. The primary source of the element is the mineral gadolinite. It is also found in other rare earth ores, such as monazite and bastnasite.
  3. At low temperatures, gadolinium is more ferromagnetic than iron.
  4. Gadolinium has superconductive properties.
  5. Gadolinium is magnetocaloric, which means its temperature increases when it is placed in a magnetic field and decreases when it is removed from the field.
  6. Lecoq de Boisbaudran separated gadolinium from its oxide in 1886. He named the element for Finnish Chemist Johan Gadolin, the discoverer of the first rare earth element.
  7. French chemist and engineer Felix Trombe was the first to purify gadolinium in 1935.
  8. Gadolinium has the highest thermal neutron cross-section of all the elements.
  9. Gadolinium is used in nuclear reactor control rods to regular fission.
  10. The element is injected into MRI patients to increase image contrast.
  11. Other uses of gadolinium include the manufacture of certain iron and chromium alloys, computer chips and CDs, microwave ovens, and televisions.
  12. The pure metal is fairly stable in air but tarnishes in moist air. It slowly reacts in water and dissolves in dilute acid. At high temperatures, gadolinium reacts with oxygen.

Gadolinium Chemical and Physical Properties

  • Element Name: Gadolinium
  • Atomic Number: 64
  • Symbol: Gd
  • Atomic Weight: 157.25
  • Discovery: Jean de Marignac 1880 (Switzerland)
  • Electron Configuration: [Xe] 4f7 5d1 6s2
  • Element Classification: Rare Earth (Lanthanide)
  • Word Origin: Named after the mineral gadolinite.
  • Density (g/cc): 7.900
  • Melting Point (K): 1586
  • Boiling Point (K): 3539
  • Appearance: soft, ductile, silvery-white metal
  • Atomic Radius (pm): 179
  • Atomic Volume (cc/mol): 19.9
  • Covalent Radius (pm): 161
  • Ionic Radius: 93.8 (+3e)
  • Specific Heat (@20°C J/g mol): 0.230
  • Evaporation Heat (kJ/mol): 398
  • Pauling Negativity Number: 1.20
  • First Ionizing Energy (kJ/mol): 594.2
  • Oxidation States: 3
  • Lattice Structure: Hexagonal
  • Lattice Constant (Å): 3.640
  • Lattice C/A Ratio: 1.588


Los Alamos National Laboratory (2001), Crescent Chemical Company (2001), Lange's Handbook of Chemistry (1952), CRC Handbook of Chemistry & Physics (18th Ed.)

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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Interesting Gadolinium Element Facts." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 27). Interesting Gadolinium Element Facts. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Interesting Gadolinium Element Facts." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).