What is Gadolinium? Electronic configuration, Atomic Number & Mass

What is Gadolinium?

Gadolinium is a silvery-white chemical element with atomic number 64 & symbol Gd. It belongs to the group of lanthanides and its normal state in nature is solid. Gadolinium is located at position 64 on the periodic table.

The word gadolinium is derived from the name of the Finnish chemist and geologist Johan Gadolin. It was this scientist who discovered gadolinite, a rock whose name itself comes from its discoverer.

General informations of Gadolinium

Gadolinium Symbol


Atomic number of Gadolinium








Volumic mass

7.901 g.com-3


Silvery white

Atomic properties of Gadolinium

Atomic mass of Gadolinium

157.25 u

Atomic radius

188 pm

Electronic configuration of Gadolinium

[Xe] 6s2 4f7 5d1

Electrons by energy level

2 | 8 | 18 | 25 | 9 | 2 | 3



Crystal system

Compact hexagonal

Physical properties of Gadolinium

Ordinary state


Gadolinium melting point

1313 ° C

Boiling point

3273 ° C


Who discovered Gadolinium?

In 1794 Johan Gadolin discovered a rock which would later be called Gadolinite. He discovered this rock in the vicinity of the village of Ytterby in Sweden.

This same rock, in 1880, was studied by the Swiss chemist Jean-Charles Galissard de Marignac, who carried out a spectroscopic analysis of samples obtained from gadolinite. He then spotted lines corresponding to a chemical element, still unknown at that time.

It was then until 1886 that the French chemist Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran isolated gadolinium.

Electronic configuration of Gadolinium

The electron configuration of Gadolinium is [Xe] 4f7 5d1 6s2 , which is presented in detail as follows: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10 4s2 4p6 4d10 5s2 5p6 4f7 5d1 6s2

The gadolinium atom (element) and Tb+1 , Dy+2 , Ho+3 have the same electronic configuration.

Gadolinium ions in aqueous solution

The gadolinium III ion, of formula Gd3+ , is a monatomic cation with a defect of 3 electrons. It can be obtained by reaction between metallic gadolinium and an acid.

Gadolinium-based compounds

Gadolinium oxide, Gd2O3 , is the oxide produced during the combustion of metallic gadolinium.

Presence of Gadolinium

Being a rare earth, gadolinium is present in the earth's crust. Rare earths, despite what one might think, are not that rare. Rare earth oxides are often the by-products of ore mining.

Gadolinium is characterized by very low mineralogical diversity. Indeed, there is only one known mineral of which it is the main constituent: lepersonnite-(Gd).

Gadolinium Extraction

Today, gadolinium is mainly extracted from:

  • Monazite, of formula (Ce, La, Th, Nd, Y) PO4
  • Bastnasite, of formula (Ce, La, Y) CO3 F

Physical and chemical properties of Gadolinium

  • Gadolinium is a rare earth metal.
  • Silver gray in color, this metal is malleable and ductile at room temperature.
  • Gadolinium is able to crystallize in a compact hexagonal system at room temperature.
  • It also has another allotropic form which is also called beta form. This beta form crystallizes in the centered cubic crystal system at a temperature of 1508 K.
  • Rather stable in dry air, gadolinium oxidizes rapidly in humid air.
  • It reacts slowly with water and is soluble in dilute acids.
  • Gadolinium is often considered one of the four ferromagnetic elements, but it's Curie point, noted TC , is very low (around 292 K)
  • Gadolinium is the metal with the greatest thermal neutron absorption capacity among all natural elements.

Uses of Gadolinium

Gadolinium is used in various sectors:

  • Gadolinium can be added to chromium steel to improve the hardness and processing properties of the alloy.
  • Gadolinium is used as a phosphorescent substance in cathode ray tubes.
  • Gadolinium-gallium garnate (also abbreviated GGG), of formula Gd3 Ga5 O12 , is used to manufacture lasers. The laser power can be increased by doping it with neodymium, ytterbium or dysprosium.
  • Gadolinium-gallium garnate is also used as a substrate in the manufacture of thin film microwave components.
  • Gadolinium allows, thanks to these properties, the production of superconducting alloys.
  • Complexed with a chelator or ligand, gadolinium is used as a contrast agent in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Gadolinium, in its oxidized form of formula Gd2 O3 , is used as a neutron absorber in certain nuclear reactors to limit reactivity at the start of life. Indeed, gadolinium has good neutron absorbing properties.
  • Currently, teams are testing a refrigerator that would work by magnetizing gadolinium.
  • Currently, developments are underway with the aim of developing an X-ray laser using neodymium and gadolinium-gallium garnate.

Toxicity of Gadolinium

Since it competes with calcium in certain calcium-dependent processes in the human body (such as breathing, heart muscle beating, muscle contraction or even blood clotting), gadolinium exhibits some toxicity, such that it can lead to serious damage depending on its concentration.

Gadolinium tends to accumulate in the brain. But some gadolinium chelates do not cause neurological deficits. It is a heavy metal that is toxic (even fatal) to people with kidney failure, it can even cause an inflammatory reaction.

This is why gadolinium compounds, some of which are used in medicine as a contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging (also called MRI), are necessarily complexed to cancel any toxicity.

Know about more periodic elements- Aluminium, Gadolinium, Germanium, Neon, Oxygen, Potassium, Promethium, Selenium, Sodium, Terbium, Tellurium, Yttrium, Ytterbium, Zirconium

Related Articales


Download Our App (1Mb Only)
To get FREE PDF & Materials