Published on Monday September 1, 2008
Professor Ulrike Wegst and colleagues have received the Werner-Köster-Award for 2007 for their paper "Materials for violin bows." [U.G.K. Wegst, S. Oberhoff, M. Weller, M.F. Ashby: Int. J. Mat. Res. 98 (2007) 1230-1237]
This prestigious award is presented every year by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Materialkunde (DGM) and the Carl Hanser Verlag for the best paper published in the International Journal of Materials Research.
The paper reports a study of the material properties of pernambuco, a tropical wood, and thirteen alternative materials. Pernambuco, indigenous to Brazil, is the preferred material for violin bows. However, it is practically extinct in the wild. The authors found that, on purely mechanical grounds, other materials exist that could make as good violin bows as pernambuco.
"Little did we expect that this paper would be so successful, because the topic is so unusual and quite specific," said Wegst. "We are delighted that our niche research, which all of us enjoyed so very much, is gaining this recognition."
An earlier article on the same theme, "Wood for sound," published in the American Journal of Botany [U.G.K. Wegst: American Journal of Botany 93(10): 1439-1448. 2006], was the inspiration for a column by Philip Ball in Nature Materials journal's "News and Views" section, "Material witness: virtuosi's choice." The "Wood for Sound" article also resulted in an invitation to write a related piece, "Bamboo and Wood in Musical Instruments," for the 2008 edition of the Annual Review of Materials Research [38 (2008) 323-349].
The award was presented on September 1, 2008 during the DGM Day banquet in Nürnberg, Germany.