CAS Celebrates World Intellectual Property Day

A celebration of World Intellectual Property Day 2015: Innovation at the Intersection of Chemistry and Music

In the year 2000, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) designated April 26th as World Intellectual Property (IP) Day. Each year in April, events are held in more than 100 countries across the globe to increase general understanding of intellectual property and how it impacts people’s daily lives.

In celebration of this year’s World IP Day theme “Get up, Stand up. For Music”, here is a look at some recent patents covering innovations at the intersection of chemistry and music. These patents were found in CAplusSM, an integrated database produced by Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) that includes more than 41 million references covering chemistry and related sciences in the broadest sense.

Since the time of Stradivarius, whose violins were renowned for their unique and beautiful tone that was thought to result, in part, from chemicals he used to protect them against wood-eating worms, instrument makers have sought to optimize sound quality and durability of instruments through innovative chemical materials, treatments, coatings and processes.

Following in the footsteps of Stradivarius, Innovent—a German non-profit industrial research association specializing in chemical surface treatments—has patented (DE102011117485) a process for improving the sound quality of stringed wooden instruments by impregnating the wood with an aqueous solution of alkali earth metal hydroxides and polyols.

Another interesting innovation in musical materials comes from the UPM-Kymmene Corporation in Finland that has filed an application (WO2014167167) for a composite of natural materials, such as wood, with one of a variety of thermoplastic polymers to create a material with specific acoustic properties for use in loudspeakers as well as in musical instruments.

A number of recent patent applications from the Changshu Xianfeng Musical Instrument Company in China (CN104497615, CN104497568, CN104497397, CN104403160, CN104449251) disclose new approaches to making musical instrument strings with specific properties such as higher tensile strength, corrosion resistance and lower conductivity. This is accomplished by coating them with specific combinations of polymers and other additives. For example, silicon-modified bisphenol A epoxy resin is a key component in enhancing strength, while polyethylene, plasticizers, nitrile rubber and zirconia are used to create a rust-proof coating.

Durability and sound quality are not the only important considerations in the manufacture of musical instruments. A number of recent patents aim to keep musicians healthier by imbuing the surfaces of musical instruments with antimicrobial qualities. For example, Senhe Musical Instrument Company of China has applied for a patent (CN104072922) on a process to make antibacterial white piano keys through the addition of silver nanopowder. Similar patents exist for black instrument surfaces, such as clarinets, with antibacterial qualities as well (CN103214863). An application has also been filed for a thermostable, arsenic-free synergistic biocide concentrate (WO2012024097) to be used for musical instruments and other products.

As these patents demonstrate, chemistry is truly a central science, touching almost every aspect of daily life in some way. This World IP Day is an opportunity to celebrate how innovations in the musical arena and beyond enhance our daily lives in ways big and small.

More information on World IP Day