University of Oregon's Shrink Wrap Condom
Richard Chartoff, a research professor at the University of Oregon, received a Gates Foundation grant for his proposal to create a new condom material. It would be a type of segmented polyurethane that is somewhat similar to shrink wrap. A condom made of this would shrink in seconds once exposed to body temperature and be thinner and stronger than those now available. Chartoff is not daunted by the task of finding this new material, it's simply what he does. "We're problem solvers," he says. "The challenge is to get exactly the target that you're shooting for, to get all the properties combined that you'd like in a single material." The biggest obstacles will likely come further down the line. U.S. Food and Drug Administration testing is rigorous and costly and it will be hard to convince condom manufacturers they need a new product. "They're reluctant to spend money on new process technology because they're making plenty of money as it is on products that are available now," says Chartoff. Many of his fellow condom innovators predict the same hurdles.