Australian researchers created a condom significantly thinner and safer than traditional products.
The condom is made from spinifex, a spiky grass found in Queensland, Australia, according to The Guardian.
This region is home to indigenous societies that long used spinifex as an adhesive, primarily to stick spearheads onto wood.
A team led by Professor Darren Martin at the University of Queensland's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology extracted a material from spinifex fibers called nanocellulose.
The team then added this spinifex nanocellulose to latex, resulting in a condom reportedly about as thin as a human hair but stronger and even more flexible than the most popular condoms available today.
Condoms made by Trojan, LifeStyles and Durex typically contain latex measuring between 0.049 millimeters and 0.121 millimeters in thickness.
Martin's team believes the spinifex condoms can be modified to be about 30 percent thinner than other condoms while still meeting the safety standards of the condom industry.
In a press release, the professor said,
We tested our latex formulation on a commercial dipping line in the United States and conducted a burst test that inflates condoms and measures the volume and pressure, and on average got a performance increase of 20 per cent in pressure and 40 per cent in volume compared to the commercial latex control sample.
The spinifex condoms, additionally, require less latex than traditional condoms and are, therefore, cheaper to make.
This would logically lead to condoms becoming more affordable, which would help decrease the spread of HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in impoverished areas.
Previous research found many adults over the age of 40 tend to avoid condoms, Medical Daily reports, presumably because condoms decrease pleasure.
The thin material of spinifex condoms would negate this pleasure flaw by offering a far "better sensation," researcher Nasim Amiralian told The Guardian.
Martin's team reportedly also intends to use spinifex to make stronger and thinner medical gloves for surgeons, as well as various other surgical tools.
Citations: Contraceptives Of The Future: Latex Condom Made With Spinifex Grass To Be As Thin As Human Hair (Medical Daily), Spiky Australian grass the key to making better condoms, say researchers (The Guardian), Native grass could be key to super-thin condoms (EurekAlert!)