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A colorless, volatile liquid that was the first known organometallic compound. In the preservation of archival materials, vapor phase diethylzinc has been used to neutralize acids and deposit an Alkaline reserve. As diethylzinc will ignite on contact with air, any treatment must be carried out in specially designed chambers. In the commercial process used by the Library of Congress, the pre-dried books were placed in a vacuum chamber. The air was evacuated and diethylzinc was released. After a 12-15 hour exposure, the chamber was re-evacuated to remove excess diethylzinc, then flushed with moist Carbon dioxide. Any Zinc oxide left in the paper is converted to Zinc carbonate to provide an alkaline reserve. The treatment also acts as a fungistat to control mold growth (Paper Catalog, 1984).

Synonyms and Related Terms

diethyl zinc; zinc diethyl; ethyl zinc; zinc ethyl; DEZ


  • Fire hazard: Ignites spontaneously on contact with air.
  • ThermoFisher: SDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

Miscible with ether, ligroin, benzene and other hydrocarbons.

Slight garlic-like odor.

Composition Zn(C2H5)2
CAS 557-20-0
Melting Point -28 C
Density 1.2065 g/ml
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 123.50
Boiling Point 118 C

Resources and Citations

  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • A Glossary of Paper Conservation Terms, Margaret Ellis (ed.), Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York City, 1998
  • Book and Paper Group, Paper Conservation Catalog, AIC, 1984, 1989

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