In 2010, two Russian scientists won the Nobel Prize in Physics for isolating graphene, a form of carbon that is proven to be stronger than steel and conducts heat better than copper.
Several Western governments have since then announced interest in the product’s potential — which also includes helping to mitigate unplanned pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and AIDS.
How? By mixing graphene with latex in condoms that retain more pleasure during sexual intercourse, and will therefore be more attractive for men to use.
Many men remain hesitant to using condoms because they reduce friction and thus pleasure in sex, but since graphene’s properties allow the condom to be thinner, it can introduce heat during sexual intercourse, and also create a larger surface area to introduce anti-HIV drugs, Lakshminarayanan Ragupathy, a senior scientific researcher for Indian condom manufacturer HLL Lifecare Limited, told Devex.
Ragupathy’s idea recently secured him and his team a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation under the Develop the Next Generation of Condom challenge launched early this year. The foundation was precisely looking for innovative condom ideas that would retain pleasure during sexual intercourse, and therefore get men to use them more.
The scientist is now working on how to actually incorporate the carbon into the condoms. He acknowledged this will not be easy, and ensuring the product is cheaper if it reaches the market will be another challenge. He is hoping to finish developing a prototype within the next 18 months so he can apply for a bigger $1 million grant from the Gates Foundation.
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