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Cadmium is a lustrous, silver-white, ductile, very malleable metal. Its surface has a bluish tinge and the metal is soft enough to be cut with a knife, but it tarnishes in air. It is soluble in acids but not in alkalis. It is similar in many respects to zinc but it forms more complex compounds.
About three-fourths of cadmium is used in Ni-Cd batteries, most of the remaining one-fourth is used mainly for pigments, coatings and plating, and as stabilizers for plastics. Cadmium has been used particularly to electroplate steel where a film of cadmium only 0.05 mm thick will provide complete protection against the sea. Cadmium has the ability to absorb neutrons, so it is used as a barrier to control nuclear fission.