Chemicals can have many valid names. This presents problems when searching for specific chemicals on vendor websites and search engines. Often, a unique identifier like a CAS number is more convenient in these situations.

There are a number of services which can quickly resolve chemical names to CAS numbers. The most popular is probably the Substance Search feature of Scifinder. Unfortunately, Scifinder is cumbersome and time-consuming and inconvenient for quick CAS resolution.

The best and simplest CAS resolver is probably the Chemical Identifier Resolver, run by the National Cancer Institute. The URL<chemicalName>/cas will return the correct CAS number(s) for your compound.

The following Perl script uses the chemical identifier resolver to convert chemical names into CAS numbers. It takes the name as input, and returns the CAS numbers on separate lines.

#!/usr/bin/perl -w
# Resolves IUPAC names to CAS numbers using

use LWP::Simple;

$iupac = $ARGV[0];
$cas = get "$iupac/cas";
@allCas = split(' ', $cas);
foreach $thisCas (@allCas) {
    print "$thisCas\n";

An Automator version of this script is available, which takes the highlighted text as input and replaces the highlighted text with the CAS number. This script can be assigned to a hotkey in Settings->Keyboard->Services for convenient CAS resolution.

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