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Zinc: Inorganic & Coordination Chemistry

  1. John Burgess1,
  2. Reg H. Prince2

Published Online: 15 DEC 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781119951438.eibc0242

Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry

How to Cite

Burgess, J. and Prince, R. H. 2011. Zinc: Inorganic & Coordination Chemistry . Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

  2. 2

    St. John's College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2011


Alloys and salts of zinc have been known for many centuries; commercial production of the metal dates from early in the eighteenth century. Of the several million tons now produced annually, by electrolytic and smelting processes, much is used in alloys, in batteries, in corrosion prevention, and in the manufacture of a range of compounds with various uses. In particular, zinc oxide and zinc chloride have a large number of uses, detailed in this article. Zinc sulfide is both one of the main zinc ores and the archetype for the two main structural forms of 4:4-coordinated structures (zinc blende and wurtzite). Many zinc compounds and complexes have interesting structural, spectroscopic, optical, magnetic, and conductivity properties, some of which are of actual or potential value in technical and industrial applications. Zinc-containing species have also proved valuable in synthesis and self-assembly of a range of supramolecular structures. Both in the solid state and in solution zinc exhibits a range of coordination numbers, though tetrahedral and, especially in solution, octahedral stereochemistries dominate. Zinc forms a variety of complexes, especially with nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and halide donor ligands. Many of these complexes show high stability, but they are generally labile in solution. Zinc plays an essential role in biology, being a key constituent of at least 200 metalloproteins. It is an essential element in human nutrition, but toxic in large quantities. Many zinc complexes have been synthesized as biochemical models; a few zinc salts are used in dietary supplements.


  • production;
  • preparation and properties;
  • uses;
  • binary compounds;
  • salts;
  • coordination complexes;
  • solution chemistry;
  • structures and stereochemistry