Condoms made from a native grass of Australia can make sex safer and is expected to be much cheaper than already available ones.
Researchers from the University of Queensland's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) have developed thin condoms by extracting nanocellulose from a grass called spinifex.
‘Condoms manufactured from latex with added nanocellulose obtained from spinifex grass could be as thin as the diameter of a human hair.
"We can make a stronger and thinner membrane that is supple and flexible, which is the holy grail for natural rubber," said Professor Darren Martin.
The grass was chopped into a pulp, mixed with sodium hydroxide and was forced through a small opening at high pressure. This peeled the nanocellulose from the pulp, leaving the highly-flexible fibers suspended in water. When added to natural latex, the nanocellulose fibers produced extra-strong yet thin condoms.
"On average we got a performance increase of 20 percent in pressure and 40 percent in volume compared to the commercial latex control sample. With a little more refinement, we think we can engineer a latex condom that's about 30 percent thinner, and will still pass all standards," said Professor Martin.
These flexible condoms can be made thin in the size of the width of a hair, paving way for better and cheaper condoms in the future.
"Because you would also use less latex, your material cost in production would potentially drop as well, making it even more attractive to manufacturers," Martin added.