The usefulness of lithium tri- and tetraorganozincates in chemical transformations is discussed in the context of their structures. the regiospecificity with which they effect reactions and the manner in which these differ to those resulting from the use of either homometallic reagents or of other 'ate compounds. Discussion focuses on their structural properties in solution, in the solid state, and in the gas phase by theoretical routes. The systematic reaction of lithium zincates with oxygen is considered and the question of whether certain lithium zincates should be represented instead as organolithium-organozinc co-complexes is addressed.
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