Gadolinium is a chemical element in the Periodic Table marked with the atomic number of 64 and with the chemical symbol Gd. This chemical element belongs to period 6 elements and the Lanthanide category. Similar to the rest of the Lanthanide elements Gadolinium possesses some metallic properties. In the Periodic Table Gadolinium is preceded by Europium and is followed by Terbium.
Gadolinium is a metallic Lanthanide element, which possesses noteworthy metallurgic properties. It is ductile, malleable and relatively soft solid element. Its name is derived from the mineral gadolinite, which consists of Gadolinium and other silicates, and was originally named after the Finnish chemist Johan Gadolin. While this chemical element is considered as relatively stable when exposed to dry air, Gadolinium tarnishes rapidly in moist air. It reacts readily with most elements and forms binary compounds with many of them, including Nitrogen, Carbon, Silicon, Arsenic, Boron, and Phosphorus. It has many scientific and commercial applications, even though it does not play any known biological roles for living organisms. Some Gadolinium agents have proved to be highly toxic in animals and even in humans, when administered in higher doses.
Physical Characteristics of Gadolinium
In terms of physical characteristics this Lanthanide element appears as a solid, ductile and malleable metallic element with a shiny silvery-white surface. When it is exposed to temperatures below 20C Gadolinium has a ferromagnetic ordering and it becomes highly paramagnetic at temperatures above 20C. Gadolinium occurs in a natural hexagonal close-packed crystal structure similar to other Lanthanide chemical elements, but when it is exposed to temperatures above 1235C its crystal structure transforms into a body-centered cubic structure. Gadolinium’s melting and boiling points are noteworthy high – 1585K and 3273K in their respective order.
Chemical Properties of Gadolinium
Atomic Number – 64
Group – n/a
Period – 6
Block – f
Electronic Configuration – 4f7 5d1 6s2
Relative Atomic Mass – 157.25 (157.253 g/mol)
Molecular Weight – 157.25
Electronegativity – 1.20
Density (G CM-3) – 7.90 g/cm3 at room temperature; 7.4 g/cm3 in liquid state
Melting Point – 1585 K; 1312 °C; 2394 °F
Boiling Point – 3273 K; 3000 °C; 5432 °F
Atomic Radius – 180 pm
Isotopes – 6
Electronic Shell – 2, 8, 18, 25, 9, 2
Discovery of Gadolinium
Back in 1880 a Swiss chemist, named Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac, inspected samples from the mineral Gadolinite and Cerite. He discovered that there was a new element present in both samples, which had a distinguished spectrum of spectroscopic lines. Marignac found that the new element was in fact an oxide and not a pure element and he named it gadolinia after the mineral Gadolinite, which in return was named after the Finnish chemist Johan Gadolin.
The very first isolation of pure Gadolinium was carried out in 1886 by another French chemist, named Paul Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran, who managed to separate the pure chemical from Marignac’s gadolinia.
Recognized by: Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac (1880)
Known and discovered by: Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac (1880)
Named by: Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac
Uses and role of Gadolinium
Whereas Gadolinium does not have any biological role and uses for living organisms, it has various commercial and scientific applications in nuclear science, present-day medicine, electronics and metallurgy.
Some Gadolinium compounds are applied in the manufacturing of TV sets and tubes as green phosphor particles. Gadolinium isotopes are used for targeting tumors in neutron therapy procedures. This chemical element plays a key role in X-ray systems, in microwaves, in MRI imaging, and in nuclear marine propulsions. It is also used in metallurgy for various Iron, Chromium and other similar alloys. Another role of Gadolinium was in the counterfeiting of diamonds and in computer bubble memory.
Gadolinium on Earth
Gadolinium is too highly reactive in order to exist freely in nature on Earth. It can be found in various bastnasite and monazite minerals as oxides. The only mineral known to mankind, which consists of essential amounts of Gadolinium is the so-called Lepersonnite-(Gd) and it’s extremely rare on Earth.
A ground-breaking new discovery claims that Gadolinium compounds and materials could be used as alternative magnetic refrigeration methods, which could have crucial environmental advantages over the current refrigeration methods. However, this type of technology is yet to be tested.