Impact: Using tough hydrogels to create a condom that feels better, encouraging use to prevent STDs and assist family planning
With the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, rising in many places around the world – including Australia – a team at UOW has taken up the challenge of creating a new condom designed to excite and motivate use.
Dr Robert Gorkin and his team at the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM) are developing the new condom using a class of materials known as hydrogels.
Often described as soft, squishy and wet, they consist mainly of water held together by molecular chains called polymers and can be designed to feel like skin.
Recently, new tough hydrogels have been developed that have mechanical properties similar to rubber - for instance stretching over 1000 times their initial size.
They can also be engineered to be effective biological barriers. It is these specially developed materials that are being used to create the hydrogel condom.
Aside from the benefits a better feeling condom has for the general population, at its core the GELdom project aims to grow condom use to stem the rate of STDs transmission and provide an effective solution for family planning.
This challenge is being tackled by utilising design innovation methods to translate the needs and desires of the communities into product solutions that can be realistically produced. It is a collaborative process that brings together design strategy, human-centered research and social innovation principles.
- INTELLIGENT POLYMER RESEARCH INSTITUTE, UOW
Dr Robert Gorkin
Dr Sina Naficy
Professor Geoff Spinks
Dr Hai Xin
- ILLAWARRA HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE, UOW
Dr Jason McArthur
Dr Simon Cook
- CENTRE FOR HEALTH INITIATIVES, UOW
Dr Christopher Magee
- CENTRE FOR DESIGN INNOVATION, SWINBURNE UNIVERSITY
Dr Gianni Genda
Bridgette Engler Newbury
- SCIENCE, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY, SWINBURNE UNIVERSITY
Professor Simon Moulton
- FACULTY OF HEALTH, ARTS AND DESIGN, SWINBURNE UNIVERSITY
Professor Scott Thompson-Whiteside
Professor Don Iverson