A number of uses for gadolinium have been found; its uses have not been as large as those of others lanthanides.
The element is used as shielding in nuclear applications due to its high thermal neutron absorption cross section. It is also used in control rods in nuclear power plants.
The largest single use of gadolinium is as a partial substitute for yttrium in yttrium-iron garnets where it stabilizes the characteristics of the garnet with respect to temperature. A solid solution of neodymium and gadolinium oxides has exhibited properties useful as a thermoionic emitter.