The broken condom is every couple's worst nightmare. OK maybe not worst, but it is one of many legitimate concerns about the contraceptive that could save lives if people actually used them. So how do you convince people to use condoms more often? Make a better condom, of course.
In the world of condom design, better means both stronger and thinner (for that natural feel). Well, there's nothing stronger and thinner than graphene, and that's exactly what scientists are hoping to use for the future of condoms. Not only is graphene virtually indestructible and only one atom thick, it's also high conductive — which means that body heat generated during sex would translate quite nicely. The Gates Foundation just awarded a $US100,000 grant to a team from the University of Manchester that is trying to develop the technology.
"Currently, people imagine using graphene in mobile-phone screens, food packaging and chemical sensors," says Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, the materials scientist who's leading the research. "If this project is successful, we might have a use for graphene which will touch our everyday life in the most intimate way."
Graphene could touch soon you in intimate ways, but it's not the only material being considered for a better condom. The Gates Foundation gave a total of eleven $US100,000 grants to teams of scientists around the world working on new condom technology. Other ideas include a South African design that enables you to open and apply the condom in one motion. Another concept from the University of Cambridge would tighten as you have sex. Then of course there's the weird one from San Diego that would employ collagen fibrils from cow tendrils for a "more natural sensation."
Let's be honest though. Nothing says progress like a condom made from a Nobel Prize-winning material.
Picture: Shutterstock / Eilleen