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Cadmium facts for kids

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silvery bluish-gray metallic
General properties
Name, symbol, number cadmium, Cd, 48
Group, period, block 125, d
Standard atomic weight {{{atomic mass}}} g/mol
Electron configuration [Kr] 4d10 5s2
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 18, 2 (Image)
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density (near r.t.) 8.65 g/cm3
Liquid density at m.p. 7.996 g/cm3
Melting point 594.22 K, 321.07 °C, 609.93 °F
Boiling point 1040 K, 767 °C, 1413 °F
Heat of fusion 6.21 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization 99.87 kJ/mol
Specific heat capacity (25 °C) 26.020 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P (Pa) 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T (K) 530 583 654 745 867 1040
Atomic properties
Oxidation states 2, 1, −2
((a mildly basic oxide))
Electronegativity 1.69 (Pauling scale)
Ionization energies 1st: {{{1st ionization energy}}} kJ/mol
2nd: {{{2nd ionization energy}}} kJ/mol
3rd: {{{3rd ionization energy}}} kJ/mol
Atomic radius 151 pm
Covalent radius 144±9 pm
Van der Waals radius 158 pm
Crystal structure hexagonal close packed
Magnetic ordering diamagnetic
Electrical resistivity 72.7Ω·m
Thermal conductivity (300 K) 96.6 W/(m·K)
Thermal expansion (25 °C) 30.8 µm/(m·K)
Speed of sound (thin rod) (20 °C) 2310 m/s
Young's modulus 50 GPa
Shear modulus 19 GPa
Bulk modulus 42 GPa
Poisson ratio 0.30
Mohs hardness 2.0
Brinell hardness 203–220 MPa
CAS registry number 7440-43-9
Most stable isotopes
Main article: Isotopes of cadmium
iso NA half-life DM DE (MeV) DP
106Cd 1.25% stable
107Cd syn 6.5 h ε 107Ag
108Cd 0.89% stable
109Cd syn 462.6 d ε 109Ag
110Cd 12.47% stable
111Cd 12.80% stable
112Cd 24.11% stable
113Cd 12.23% 7.7×1015 y β 113In
113mCd syn 14.1 y β 113In
IT 113Cd
114Cd 28.75% stable
115Cd syn 53.46 h β 115In
116Cd 7.51% 3.1×1019 y ββ 116Sn

Cadmium is a metal. It is element 48 on the periodic table. Its symbol is Cd. Its atomic number is 48 and its atomic mass is 112.4. It is found in Group 12 on the periodic table.


Physical properties

Cadmium is a blue-gray soft metal. It can be considered a transition metal or a post-transition metal. It is malleable and ductile. It is similar to zinc. It melts at 321°C.

Cadmium has 8 natural isotopes. 5 are radioactive, but 3 have very long half-lives so their radioactivity is almost nothing.

Chemical properties

Cadmium is a moderately reactive metal. It corrodes in moist air and dissolves in acids. It burns in air when powdered to make the brown cadmium oxide.

Chemical compounds

Cadmium chloride hemipentahydrate
Cadmium chloride
Oxid kademnatý
Cadmium oxide

Cadmium forms chemical compounds in two oxidation states: +1 and +2. The +1 state is rare and unstable. The +2 state is much more common. Most +2 compounds dissolve easily in water and are white to yellow. Cadmium oxide can be brown, red, or white. Cadmium sulfide is bright yellow. Cadmium chloride and cadmium sulfate are colorless solids that dissolve easily in water. Cadmium fluoride is slightly soluble. Cadmium compounds are toxic when inhaled.


Cadmium was found by two chemists, German chemist Friedrich Stromeyer discovered it in 1817, and Karl Herman also discovered it in 1818. They were looking at an impurity in zinc carbonate and found cadmium. For about 100 years, Germany made most cadmium. Cadmium iodide was used as a medicine although it was toxic.


Greenockite (yellow crystal)

Cadmium ores are rare. Greenockite, a cadmium sulfide mineral is the only main ore and it is found with sphalerite, a zinc sulfide. Because of this, most cadmium comes from zinc processing. Cadmium as a metal is very rare but is found in one place in Russia.


China makes the most cadmium. South Korea and Japan also make cadmium. Cadmium is taken from the zinc metal by heating the zinc metal in a vacuum. Cadmium is boiled first. The cadmium is condensed and used. Cadmium is also taken by precipitating it from the solution of zinc sulfate used to make pure zinc by electrolysis.


In the 1930s and 1940s cadmium was mainly used to plate steel to prevent it from corroding. Then cadmium sulfide was used as a pigment in paint.

Now, cadmium is mainly used in nickel cadmium batteries. 86% of cadmium is used in batteries as of 2009. Some people are trying to stop using nickel-cadmium batteries because cadmium is toxic. Cadmium is still used to electroplate steel to prevent corrosion. Only about 6% of cadmium is used for this. Cadmium is also used in lasers, nuclear reactors, phosphors, photoresistors, pigments, and semiconductors. Wood's metal, an alloy that melts very easily, has cadmium in it. Cadmium is used in some solder.

Cadmium is not used in the human body or any other animal. A diatom uses cadmium, though.


Cadmium is a highly toxic metal. Dust of cadmium or its compounds is very dangerous and can kill. Some countries have banned cadmium from electronics. Cigarette smoking is the most important source of cadmium. Smokers have about 4 times more cadmium in their blood than nonsmokers (people who do not smoke). Cadmium is thought to be carcinogenic, although people still debate whether it is other things with the cadmium that cause cancer, like arsenic.

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