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Organometallic compounds are characterized by at least one bond between a carbon atom of an organic compound and a metal atom. Gilman reagents, ferrocene, diethylmagnesium, Grignard reagents, organolithium compounds, organozinc compounds, and organocopper compounds are some examples of organometallics. These compounds are a diverse and versatile family of molecules which have a wide range of potential applications in many domains of life. Organometallic chemistry has produced many Nobel laureates. As the character of metal-carbon bonds lie in between ionic and covalent, organometallics are both relatively stable in solutions and relatively ionic to undergo reactions, which make them very important in industry.
Organometallics are employed in many stoichiometric and catalytic processes. A major proportion of polyethylene and polypropylene are produced via organometallic catalysts, usually heterogeneously, via Ziegler-Natta catalysis. Organolithium, organomagnesium, and organoaluminium compounds, being highly basic and highly reducing, catalyze many polymerization reactions. Semiconductors are produced from trimethylgallium, trimethylindium, trimethylaluminium. These volatile compounds are also useful for applications such as fabrication of light emitting diodes (LEDs). Ferrocene and MMT (methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl) are added to gasoline as antiknock agents. Also, the ruthenium-BINAP complex is used in the production of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Gd and Mn complexes are useful as MRI contrast agents. Similarly, many other organometallics are incorporated into radiopharmaceuticals. Zinc finger proteins are useful in gene therapy.