In March 2013, billionaire Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates issued a challenge to the world’s scientists to develop the next generation of condoms in an attempt to curtail the spread of AIDS worldwide. Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates encouraged scientists and inventors to develop condoms with more sensation.
By improving the feel of condoms, these scientists and inventors hope to make the use of condoms more widespread. In November 2013, Gates selected eleven finalists, who have each received $100 thousand to work on their designs and produce them.
Now, each of these eleven finalists will compete for a $1 million grant. Few finalists have caught the attention of the national media with their innovations’ potential.
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Condoms made from Graphene
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pumped in a grant of $100,000 to researchers at University of Manchester who are working on a new kind of condom aimed at mimicking natural sensation while being light weight and impenetrable.
The proposed raw material that has been suggested is graphene, a unique material known for its wide array of properties. The main idea is to make a condom which the masses will not reject for reasons ranging from discomfort to lack of pleasure and erectile issues.
Graphene is impenetrable to all kinds of molecules, except water. Its electrical and thermal conductivity properties make it an apt choice for a range of applications ranging from Electronics to Building Materials and the like. The material was first isolated during a routine project of mechanical exfoliation using sticky tape, and is known to be strong.
Given the wide range of positive properties that can be aptly used in condoms, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has allotted the said research grants for a graphene condom. Although graphene cannot be used to make condoms in isolation, it can be combined with other materials to create a composite which can be used to make the desired condoms. In isolation, graphene is only one atom thick and cannot be used to make a standalone condom.
The main criteria is to synthesize a compound which borrows the positive traits of graphene, to arrive at the perfect condom.
Graphene’s thermal conducting properties will certainly help make using the condom a more authentic experience. Its lightweight nature will help the wearer feel a certain level of freedom and at the same time, the material’s strength will ensure that failure of condom is close to zero.
However, it is to be noted that there is no specific timeline for the condom to hit stores near you. In all likelihood, research in this regard will take a few years before the right graphene composite is synthesized for the perfect condom. Aravind Vijayraghavan, who is leading the team of researchers at the University of Manchester, is optimistic of the success of the product if synthesized.
With the Galactic Cap, Charles Powell has redesigned the condom to permit more skin-to-skin contact between partners. The design features a skin-safe adhesive strap applied to tip of the penis, which the user can wear for days at a time. It permits urination and the rest of day-to-day activities. Before sex, the user simply attaches a cap to the adhesive strap. It only covers the uppermost part of the glans penis, which leaves the entire shaft uncovered for higher sensation, especially along the most-pleasurable parts of the penis including the foreskin, much of the glans, and corona.
Although it consists of less material, the design makes the condom less apt to break or otherwise fail. Due to its design, it does not protect the user from some sexually transmitted infections, such as oral and genital herpes, HPV, and syphilis.
Rather than redesigning the shape of the condom, scientists Robert Gorkin and Sina Naficy have enhanced condoms’ sensations with their use of hydrogel materials to replace latex. Hydrogels consist of water and polymers and resemble a jelly, thus making these condoms elastic, tear-resistant, and exceptionally strong. It entails a more skin-like sensation for the user and the other partner because these materials allow the penis to feel exact textures and pressures.
This condom has excellent potential because its structure permits the integration of lubricants and other substances to either enhance or vary sexual sensations. They will be safe for people with latex allergies and help prevent the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
These next-generation condoms have excellent promise, but users will still have to make the decision to wear them. Along with Gates, the designers of these condoms hope that an increase in the sexual sensations condoms offer will change a culture in which men refuse or lament using them. These designers have generated a lot of buzz over their innovations, which they hope will make sex more enjoyable and, most importantly, safer for men and women around the world.