Graphene is the new “super material” that scientists everywhere are talking about. It has found its’ way into numerous applications, all the way from electronics to biomedical applications. It has excellent mechanical and electrical properties, and it has very low porosity, a property that is being taken advantage of by many researchers trying to improve current technology.
Just recently, Bill Gates decided it would be a good idea to fund graphene-based condoms. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester in order to develop materials which may facilitate graphene as a base material. Although graphene is a very strong material itself, it will need other materials around it to support its’ light weight nature and imperfections.
Graphene, being only one atom thick is transparent and is said to be the second strongest material in the world, second to carbyne. Condoms made from graphene are expected to preserve sensitivity while preventing leakage, and breakage. Today’s thick and sensation-free latex and polyurethane condoms are not preferred by the public, so Bill Gates thinks he might be doing them a favor by helping to create thinner and stronger condoms.
The University of Manchester in England is where graphene was first isolated, using a “mechanical exfoliation” technique. Since then, other ways of creating graphene have emerged, sparking a revolution that will probably carry on until it is a commonly known material. Although graphene is popular in the scientific world, it has, for the most part, not reached the ears of the unsuspecting public, a truth that may change if these condoms become widely available. As Aravind Vijayaraghavan, one of the researchers at Manchester says “If this project is successful, we might have an everyday use which will literally touch our everyday lives in the most intimate way.”
There is no presnt way of telling when these condoms will become available to the public. It is rumored that it will take at least a couple years. Although, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded grants of $100,000 to 11 condom research groups to date, so with so much incentive, it is bound to hit the markets in the coming years.