A to Z Challenge – GADOLINIUM

Day 7

April 8, 2016

The Magnificent Seven Letter: G


I love the sound of words. Case in point, Gadolinium. Say it, and feel the way it trips off your tongue, or just sounds inside your head. Sure, there are prettier sounding words, in this realm.

But what the heck is it?

I’m sure that most people who have ever taken a chemistry class will have come across it. The Faraday Girls (as I like to think of them) will know. *waving* Hope you’re having a great trip!

Okay back to our word at hand.

Here’s a hint:


It’s atomic number is 64. It’s ‘symbol’ is Gd. And it’s atomic mass is 157.25

It is a silvery-white, malleable and ductile rare-earth metal. It is found in nature only in combined (salt) form. Gadolinium was first detected spectroscopically in 1880 by de Marignac, who separated its oxide and is credited with its discovery. It is named for gadolinite, one of the minerals in which it was found, in turn named for chemist Johan Gadolin.

I know, it’s mind boggling.

But wait, it gets better:

Gadolinium metal possesses unusual metallurgic properties, to the extent that as little as 1% gadolinium can significantly improve the workability and resistance to high temperature oxidation of iron, chromium, and related alloys. Gadolinium as a metal or salt has exceptionally high absorption of neutrons and therefore is used for shielding in neutron radiography and in nuclear reactors. Like most rare earths, gadolinium forms trivalent ions which have fluorescent properties. Gadolinium(III) salts have therefore been used as green phosphors in various applications.

Now THAT is heady stuff!

The gadolinium(III) ion occurring in water-soluble salts is quite toxic to mammals. However, chelated gadolinium(III) compounds are far less toxic because they carry gadolinium(III) through the kidneys and out of the body before the free ion can be released into tissue. Because of its paramagnetic properties, solutions of chelated organic gadolinium complexes are used as intravenously administered gadolinium-based MRI contrast agents in medical magnetic resonance imaging.

So, I guess you’re wondering what a nice spritely minx like me would be remotely interested in such a thing.


One of the things which I loved about Mr. Quantum, when we were learning stuff about each other, was his passion and love for Science. While his favorite field is Astrophysics, and now, Particle Physics, when we first got hitched, we’d spend hours talking over the intricacies of his love for science. He got me quite interested in the periodic table, and before I knew it, he had me learning all the elements! I found so many of them sounded absolutely wonderful as words.


Hence, when today showed up, and G was the word (I probably should have thought of Grease; you know Grease is the word, is the word, is the word). But I didn’t. I thought of the beautiful sound of Gadolinium.



Info: Wikipedia

Photo: sciencenotes.org