Gadolinium was discovered in 1880, named after the mineral gadolinite, and a Finnish chemist. It is in the middle of the lanthanide series. Gadolinium divides the lighter metals, which adds pliant qualities to alloys, from the heavier metals, used mostly as strengthening agents.

One other use of gadolinium is the use of the manmade radioactive isotope, gadolinium-153, as a special radiation measuring technique to detect the loss of calcium in the hip and back bones. But there hasn't been enough of this isotope available for wide use. Now, using America's breeder reactor, additional quantities of gadolinium-153 are being created. With its wider availability, osteoporosis can be diagnosed early enough to prevent future crippling.

BCIT Chemistry Resource Center