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article imageNanotechnology builds unbreakable condoms

By Tim Sandle     Dec 31, 2014 in Science
It is always better to be safe than sorry and with sexual intercourse nanotech may have the answer for lowering the risk of condoms breaking at the wrong moment.
New contraceptive technologies: condoms, pills, and implantable devices — provide reversible and permanent forms of protection. The usage of such product, however, varies widely. With the new study, the focus is on condoms. Researchers are harnessing nanotechnology to develop an unbreakable and efficient condom. At the same time it is hoped that the technology will make the rubbery devices more appealing to use.
Behind the research is not only a desire to lower the risk of unexpected pregnancies, the condoms are also being developed to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.
The development was undertaken by the department of radiology at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, led by Karen Buch, M.D. and Ducksoo Kim. The project forms part of the Grand Challenges Explorations program, which is supported funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
According to the Gates Foundation, in the time that condoms have been in use, little has changed: “They have undergone very little technological improvement in the past 50 years. The primary improvement has been the use of latex as the primary material and quality-control measures, which allow for quality testing of each individual condom.”
To fund the project, a $100,000 grant has been issued. This is being spent on producing a new type of nanoparticle polymer coating termed hydrophilic coating. This nanotech derived material is said to lower the risk of breakage. It will also, in theory, make condoms more durable.
The next stage of the research will involve covering condoms with a coating of super-hydrophilic nanoparticles (tiny particles that trap water and add a thin layer of lubrication). This will make the prophylaxis devices more resilient still and more ‘comfortable’ to use. The basis is that the thinner the condom, the easier it is to use, since there would be less friction; however, by making the condom thinner it also needs to be more resilient.
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