What is Gadolinium? (with photos)

Gadolinium is used as a contrast agent in MRI machines.

Gadolinium is a metallic chemical element classified in the rare earth metals. Most of the world’s supply is found in various minerals, which are processed to extract usable elements; this element is extremely rare in pure form due to its reactivity and vulnerability to corrosion. It has a number of industrial uses that guarantee a very stable demand. Consumers rarely interact directly with gadolinium, although they may own or use products that contain this element.

In the periodic table of the elements, Gadolinium is identified with the atomic number 64 and the symbol G‑d.

In pure form, gadolinium is a bright white metal with a crystalline structure. It is extremely malleable and also reacts weakly with water. When exposed to moist air, it forms a distinctive scaly crust that flakes off to expose the underlying metal to the elements. Pure metal can be stored in a sealed container or in mineral oil so that this crust doesn’t form and spoil. In the periodic table of the elements, it is identified with the atomic number 64 and the symbol Gd.

Gadolinium can be stored in a sealed container or in mineral oil so that this crust doesn’t form and spoil.

In medicine, gadolinium is used as a contrast agent for some medical imaging and also appears in some imaging equipment such as MRI machines. The element is also used in a wide range of metal alloys and also appears in some nuclear reactors. It is also used in the manufacture of synthetic gemstones and has some unusual magnetic properties that are sometimes taken advantage of in scientific experiments. At room temperature, gadolinium is paramagnetic, while it becomes ferromagnetic as it cools.

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Gadolinium has been linked to complications in people with kidney disease.

The discovery of gadolinium is credited to Jean de Marignac, who observed its characteristic spectroscopic signature in 1880. It took several years for a French chemist to successfully isolate an oxide of the element, named after Johan Gadolin, a prominent Finnish scientist. Gadolinite is also called Gadolin, although this mineral contains little or no gadolinium, which can be confusing.

Gadolinium must be handled with care as it can be toxic, like other rare earth elements. The precise toxicity of it is unknown, but it’s safe to say that people should probably avoid inhaling fumes and particles from the metal while it’s being worked, and it shouldn’t be ingested either. Its medical use has been linked to complications in people with kidney disease, so medical professionals tend to use other contrast agents in imaging studies in people with kidney problems.

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