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Cadmium, Kadmium Danish
Cadmium Frisian (West)
Cadmiu Romanian - Moldovan
Кадмий [Kadmij] Bulgarian
Кадмій [kadmij] Belarusian
Кадмиум [Kadmium] Macedonian
Кадмий [Kadmij] Russian
Кадмијум [Kadmijum] Serbian
Кадмій [kadmij] Ukrainian
Caidmiam Gaelic (Irish)
Caidmiam Gaelic (Scottish)
Cadmium Gaelic (Manx)
Καδμιο [kadmio] Greek
Կադմիում [kadmium] Armenian
Кадмий [kadmij] Ossetian
Кадмий [Kadmi'] Tajik
ক্যাডমিয়াম [kyāḍamiẏāma] Bengali
کادمیم [kadmym] Persian
કૅડમિયમનો [keḍmiyamano] Gujarati
काडमियम [kāḍiyama] Hindi
Кадмий [Kadmij] Komi
Кадмий [Kadmij] Mari
Кадми [kadmi] Moksha
Кадми [Kadmi] Chuvash
Кадмий [kadmij] Kazakh
Кадмий [Kadmij] Kyrgyz
Кадми [kadmi] Mongolian
كادمىي [kadmiy] Uyghur
კადმიუმი [kadmiumi] Georgian
كادميوم [kādmiyūm] Arabic
קדמיום [kadmium] Hebrew
Kak (鎘) Hakka
カドミウム [kadomiumu] Japanese
카드뮴 [kadeumyum] Korean
แคดเมียม [khaetmiam] Thai
Catmi, Cađimi Vietnamese
鎘 [ge2 / gaak8] Chinese
കാഡ്മിയം [kāḍmiyam] Malayalam
கட்மியம் [kaţmiyam] Tamil
Kadmimi Sranan Tongo
Cadmion Atomic Elements
Blue white metal which slowly takes on a grayish oxide coating
melting point 320 °C; 610 °F
boiling point 765 °C; 1409 °F
density 8.65 g/cc; 540 pounds/cubic foot
1817 Friedrich Stromeyer, Germany
cadmia, Cadmean earth = zinc carbonate, ZnCO3
> Kadmos, founder of Thebes
History & Etymology
The history of the discovery of Cadmium is quite difficult: it is a conflict between pharmacy inspector Roloff and chemical manufacturer Herrman with professor Stromeyer between them. Roloff as well as Hermann published a history of the discovery in Gilbert's Annalen.
In the early 19th century Zinc oxide was used for a number of ailments, and was freely available at pharmacies. The German government employed physicians, who inspected the pharmaceuticals. In September 1817, inspector J.C.H. Roloff (or Rolow) from Magdeburg found in several pharmacies in small provincial towns a suspect Zinc oxide. This suspect Zinc oxide was bought for a low price from the "Chemische Fabrik zu Schönebeck" of Carl Samuel Hermann (1765-1846). Hermann got his supply from Silesia. With his first tests, Roloff thought that the oxide contained Arsenic oxide as well. It was agreed that samples were sent for official examination. However, Roloff himself continued testing and found, together with "Medicinal-Assessor" Heukenkamp, that it contained not Arsenic but a unknown metal. In February 1818 he sent his report with a sample of the new metal to Staatsrath Dr. Christoph W. Hufeland for publication in his Journal für die praktischen Heilkunde, but publication was delayed until the April issue. Roloff's sample was examined in Berlin by the medical assessors Kluge and Staberoh, who came to the same conclusion, that it contained a new metal for which they suggested (in a report dated 25 April 1818) the name Klaprothium, after the German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth, who died the year before.
In the mean time, Hermann, without informing Roloff, had also found the new metal and had sent samples to Friedrich Stromeyer (1776-1835) for further examination. Stromeyer, professor of metallurgy and head of the department of chemistry at the Göttingen University, was in that time Inspector General of the pharmacies. Stromeyer found the new metal and had named it Kadmium in Autumn 1817.
On 14 April 1818 Roloff also sent a sample to Stromeyer, and wrote him that in the case it contained a new metal, Stromeyer could give it its name. Stromeyer wrote back to Roloff that he already had found the metal in Hermann's samples.
To complicate the history of the discovery of Cadmium, a correspondence was published in May 1818 in the Annalen der Physik, edited by Ludwig Wilhelm Gilbert, under the title "Discovery of two new metals in Germany" (note). Several people came forward claiming that they had discovered the element first, and had already given a name. Hermann announced a discovery of a new metal. Gerhard wrote that in a scientific society was suggested to name this metal after a chemist, who the year before was deceased (Klaprothium, see above). In a very long note Gilbert comments on this suggestion. Since this note is interesting for the ideas on the naming of elements in the early 19th century, I quote it in full:
Finally, Stromeyer's paper "Ueber das Cadmium" was published in October 1818 in the Annalen der Physik (note). In the introduction he wrote that Roloff and Hermann together had asked Stromeyer to solve their controversy. Since this was not true, Roloff sent on 18 November 1818 a letter to Gilbert, which was published in the next issue of the Annalen under the title "On the history of Cadmium" (note). And this letter was followed by a reaction "Another contribution to the history of Cadmium" by Hermann, published in the 1820 Annalen with a report on the further analysis of Cadmium (note).
"Da eine solche Benennung schwerlich die Bestimmung der Chemiker erhalten dürfte, weil Klaproth sebst es zur Regel gemacht hat die Namen neuer Metalle aus dem alten Götterkreise der Fabel zu entlehnen, worin ihm die mehrsten gefolgt sind, so mache ich dem Hrn. Administrator Hermann und Herrn Professor von Vest (dem Entdecker des zweiten weiterhin zu erwähnenden neuen Metalls) folgenden Vorschlag zur Bennennung dieser beiden neuen metallischen Körper, wenn die Wirklichkeit derselben völlig bewährt seyn wird (denn den Entdeckern steht das Recht der Benennung zu.) Die vier kleinen seit dem Jahr 1800 aufgefundenen Planeten zwischen Mars und Jupiter, had nach der Ceres, der Pallas, der Juno und der Vesta benannt worden. Diesen vier Göttinnen war früher eben so wenig ein Metall als ein Planet geweiht. Herr Wollaston hat das eine der in dem Platin von ihm entdeckten neuen Metalle Palladium, Herr Berzelius sein neuentdecktes Nordisches Metall Cerium genannt. Also sind noch zwei Götter- und Sternnamen, Juno und Vesta zur Benennung von Metallen vacant (des Herrn Thomson's Junonium beruhte bekanntlich auf einem Irrthum.) Hier hätten wir nun dazu zwei neue Metalle, die es also am schicklichsten seyn dürfte, Junonium, und Vestaeum oder Vestaeium zu nennen. Da es sich nun sonderbar genug trifft, dass der Entdecker des einen Vest heisst, so mache ich den Vorschlag, Herr Professor von Vest möge den Namen Junonium für sein Metall aufgeben und der Benennung Vestaeium, oder wenn man will Vestium, beitreten, indem dieser Name zugleich an die Göttin und den neuen Planeten Vesta, und an den Entdecker Herrn Dr. von Vest erinnern würde, dem es die Bescheidenheit untersagte, selbst dem Gedächtniss durch diese doppelte Beziehung zu Hülfe zu kommen. Wohlverstanden, vorausgesetzt, dass Hrn. Dr. von Vest's Entdeckung sich bewährt. (Damit wir aber darüber Gewissheit verhalten, fordere ich ihn auf, mich gütigst mit einer hinreichenden Menge Erz oder Präparaten seines neuen Metalls zu versehen, um sie bewährten analysirenden Chemikern zur Prüfung mittheylen zu können.) Hrn. Hermann's Metalle würde dann der Name Junonium zufallen, über den ich es ihm überlassen muss, zu bestimmen, wenn er sich von der Gewissheit der Entdeckung überzeugt haben wird. Als diese Anmerkung schon in dem Druck war, hörte ich am 9. Mai von einem unmittelbar aus Göttingen kommenden eifrigen Freund der Naturkunde, Herrn Hofr. Stromeyer sey es geglückt, das neue Metall darzustellen, und er bestimme demselben den Namen Cadmium, (nach Cadmia fornacum Ofenbruch, besonders Ofengalmei der Ockerhütte bei Goslar) ein Name, der allerdings gut gewält zu seyn scheint, kömmt er anders nicht eher dem Zinke als dem neuen Metalle zu. Ich hoffe meinen Lesern im nächsten Hefte hierüber mehreres vorzulegen. Gilbert (note)."
Since such a designation might hardly receive the consent of the chemists, because Klaproth himself made the rule to take the names of new metals out of the circe of the mythical Gods, and most of them followed him, I make the following suggestion on the christening of these two new metallic bodies for the mr. administrator Hermann and mr. professor von Vest (the discoverer of the second new metal which later will be mentioned), if the reality of these is completely proved (the right of the designation is entitled to the discoverers.) The four small planets found since the year 1800 between Mars and Jupiter, have been named after Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta. These four goddesses were devoted in former times evenly so little to a metal as to a planet. Mr. Wollaston had given the name Palladium to one of the new metals discovered by him in Platinum, Mr. Berzelius named its recently discovered Nordic metal Cerium. Thus two names of goddesses and stars, Juno and Vesta, are still available for the designation of metals (Mr. Thomson's Junonium was, as is well known, based on an error.) Here we would have now two new metals, which would be suitable to name Junonium and Vestaeum or Vestaeium. Since strangely enough the discoverer of one of the two is named Vest, I make the suggestion, that professor von Vest may give up the name Junonium for his metal and to give it the name Vestaeium, or if one wants Vestium, since this reminds to the goddess and the new planet Vesta, and at the same time to the discoverer Dr. von Vest, to whom modesty forbade to arouse even the thought to this double designation. Well-understood, provided that Dr. von Vest's discovery proves itself satisfactorily. (to get certainty, I request him to provide me a sufficient quantity of ore or preparations of its new metal, to provide it to analytical chemists for examination.) Then the name Junonium would be given to Hermann's metal, but I must leave it to him to determine if he has convinced himself of the certainty of the discovery. When this note already was in press, I heard on 9 May from an eager friend of the natural history, coming directly from Göttingen, that Hofrat Stromeyer had prepared the new metal successfully and that he had given it the name Cadmium, (after Cadmia fornacum Ofenbruch, particularly Ofengalmei of the Ockerhütte near Goslar) a name, which seems to be well chosen, since it comes rather to zinc than to the new metal. I hope to submit my readers in the next issue more about this. Gilbert (note).
As explained in Gilbert's note, Stromeyer had named the metal Cadmium from the Latin cadmia (cadmia fornacea or fornacum), an older name for the common zinc ore calamine (zinc carbonate, ZnCO3). The name cadmia is derived from the Greek καδμεια γη [kadmeia gè] = cadmean earth (= calamine), zinc ore. Cadmean earth was first found near Thebes, city founded c.1450 BC by the Phoenician prince Καδμος [Kadmos, in Latin Cadmus], son of the Phoenician king Agenor, and brother of Ευρωπη [Eurōpè] (cf. Europium). Καδμεια [Kadmeia] was also the name of the fortress of Thebes, named after its founder. The legend tells that Cadmus was the first to have found a zinc rock and to notice that it gave a golden tinge to copper during smelting. According to one tradition, Cadmus also introduced the Phoenician alphabet into Greece as well as the knowledge of extracting gold from the deposits of Pangaios.
Melinium, Junonium, Vestaeium, Wodanium, Sirium?
In the May 1818 article "Discovery of two new metals in Germany" (note) and a later issue in the same year several others reported the discovery of a new metal:
- W. Meissner, owner of the Löwenapotheke in Halle reports on 4 May 1818 a new metal found in Zinc oxide from Silesia. He had got samples from Hermann in Schönebeck. He does not give it a name.
- Professor J.F.W. Brandes from Breslau wrote on 13 May 1818 about a discovery of a new metal by his friend, the Ober-Hüttenrath Karsten, who christened it Melinium (yellow [Latin Melinus = from honey]) after the color of its sulphide (note).
- Gilbert reports from an Austrian journal that Dr. von Vest (note), chemistry professor in Graz, had found in 1817 a new metal in Nickel ore from Schladmig in Upper Styria, which he had named Junonium. In a note to Hermann's letter, where he accepts the name Cadmium, Gilbert repeats the suggestion to name Von Vest's mineral Vestäium, despite the fact that Junonium is available. Indeed, in the next issue of the Annalen he published a report by Dr. von Vest, where the new metal is named Vestäium or Vestium (note). In an introductory note Gilbert repeats the objections against Vestium, when this name would be given by the discoverer Von Vest himself. Von Vest agreed with this, but, as he wrote to Gilbert on 15 June 1818, did not want to name his metal Junonium since this name was already used by Thomas Thomson, although he was convinced Thomson's metal was Cererium (Cerium). Since no other planet was available than Vesta, which he could not use because of the similarity with his name, he wrote, he suggests the name Sirium. But, he continued, he leaves it to Gilbert to name the metal as he wants, "... und man wird mich nicht einer kindischen Eitelkeit beschuldigen können, wenn Gilbert den Namen Vestäium oder Vestium vorzieht und einführt" (... and he would not be accused of childish vanity, as Gilbert introduces the name Vestäium or Vestium). In the report, the metal is consequently called Vestäium, so that was Gilbert's choice. At the end, a short note as added, dated 30 July 1818. Von Vest wrote that Sir Humphry Davy was in Graz and has done a preliminary analysis of Vestäium. Davy thought first that it was Tantalum, but was soon convinced that could not be it. Samples of Vestium were taken to England, where Davy's assistant Michael Faraday analysed it. He reported to Gilbert that it concerned nothing more than impure Nickel. (note) (for Junonium and Vestium, see also Yttrium].
- "Berg-Commiss. Rath" Wilhelm A.E. Lampadius, professor at the Freiberg Academy, wrote on 19 August 1818 to Gilbert that he has found a new metal in a sample of Cobalt ore from Topschau in Hungary. Long time he thought it was a Nickel compound, but his analysis resulted in a composition of Sulphur, Arsenic, Iron, Nickel, and 20% of a new metal, which he named Wodanium. There were no planets available anymore for naming new metals, he wrote, and followed Berzelius, who started with the old Germanic gods (note). A sample of the same ore - now named Wodan-Kies - was examined in 1820 by Friedrich Stromeyer, who found nothing unknown. The ore consisted of 36% Arsenic, 16% Nickel, 11% Iron, 10% Sulphur and some traces of Cobalt, Manganese, Copper, Lead, and Antimony (note).
In the 19th century a native Czech name was proposed: ladík, which could be derived from "ladit" = tune.
CADMIUM, with features like Tin, and Zinc,
Is a white metal with slight tinge of blue;
It has strong lustre and takes a fine polish.
It "crackles," and is mall'able and ductile
Like Tin. 'Tis very volatile at low heat.
- J.C.H. Roloff, "Zur Geschichte des Kadmium". Annalen der Physik N.F. 31 (1819), pp. 205-210.
- C.S. Hermann, "Noch ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Kadmiums". Annalen der Physik N.F. 36 (1820), pp. 285-289.
- Mary Elvira Weeks, Discovery of the Elements, comp. rev. by Henry M. Leicester (Easton, Pa.: Journal of Chemical Education, 1968), pp. 502-509.
- Anil Aggrawal, Poisoning by Cadmium. Science Reporter, Aug.-Sept. 1998. (on-line).
- James B. Calvert, "Zinc and Cadmium" 2002 (on-line).