One of the biggest complaints about condoms – and the primary reason men are reluctant to use them – is that they affect the sensation of intercourse and diminish the sexual pleasure.
However, a breakthrough material – graphene – could pave the way to silencing those prophylactic naysayers with a new-and-improved condom that’s stronger, thinner and safer than their current counterparts.
The University of Manchester has received a Grand Challenges Explorations Grant to the tune of $100,000 (£62,123) from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The money will be used to develop a new synthesis of nano-materials to create the range of next generation condoms.
Graphene condoms could encourage safe sex
With STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea still a widespread problem across the UK, the primary challenge is to create a new technology that will result in a reduction in reported cases of STIs and a more satisfying sexual sensation. This in turn will hopefully lead to more men wanting to use them.
Traditional condoms currently use a composite mix of materials – graphene and an elastic polymer, such as latex.
Graphene, the wonder material
Graphene is the world’s thinnest, strongest and most conducive material. Its applications are so wide-ranging; it can also be used in technology like smartphones and computer chips.
First discovered in 2004 by Sir Andre Geim and Sir Kostya Novoselov at the University of Manchester, it earned them the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010.
The new research into the possibilities of graphene, and its ground-breaking use in the development of next generation condoms, will be carried by Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan at the newly founded National Graphene Institute in Manchester.
Dr Vijayaraghavan said:
This composite material will be tailored to enhance the natural sensation during intercourse while using a condom, which should encourage and promote condom use.
This will be achieved by combining the strength of graphene with the elasticity of latex to produce a new material which can be thinner, stronger, more stretchy, safer and, perhaps most importantly, more pleasurable.
He added that using grapheme as a key component in manufacturing new condoms highlights how this revolutionary material will be able to “touch our everyday life in the most intimate way.”
For a full range of contraceptive products, visit our contraception page.