University of Wollongong's Eco-Friendly Hydrogel Condom
Hyrdogels are a relatively new material that most people know very little about. They are soft, squishy, and wet, much like skin. Contact lenses are probably the ones most are familiar with but some are so tough a truck could drive over them. Those wouldn't be ideal for condoms but researchers at the University of Wollongong are working hard to find what kind of hydrogel would be the right fit because these materials are not only strong and skin-like, they are also eco-friendly and able to release pharmaceutical agents.
While their Gates Foundation grant is to test various hydrogels to see which would be best for condoms, they have taken their studies a step farther. Working with Swinburne Technology University, they are working to find out what people are looking for in a condom, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, so that they can come up with a user-generated product. "The goal is to create a better feeling condom but the real goal is to improve the lives and well-being of those people on the ground," says Robert Gorkin, research fellow at the University of Wollongong.