back to article Lead ONTO your pencil: Bill Gates pours cash into graphene condoms

A graphene condom so thin that blokes won’t look for excuses to avoid using it is on its way, thanks to Bill Gates. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $100,000 to University of Manchester boffins who’ve proposed making condoms built using the wonder-material, so far earmarked for use in electronics and computing …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. malle-herbert Silver badge


    "Its uses are seen as limitless in tech, for making systems that are smaller, more lightweight and more power efficient."

    If it also makes your penis smaller, more lightweight and more power efficient I guess a lot of blokes wouldn't want to use 'em anyway...

    1. lunatik96

      Re: Well...

      I doubt blokes will care, the birds might have an issue tho.

  2. Ninetailed

    "Is there anything the wonder material can't do?"

    Be produced economically, apparently. People talk up all the wonderful things graphene can do, but it isn't doing any of these things because it's too bloody expensive to make.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Is there anything the wonder material can't do?"

      Oh, it's cheap to make. It's just really expensive to make useful.

    2. Cliff

      Re: "Is there anything the wonder material can't do?"

      I've heard people saying $10,000 per ounce. Seeing as it's 0.77mg/m^2 that's about $1100/acre, or about the same price as copier paper from Rymans.

      Now getting big enough sheets of the stuff to make into johnnies, that's the tricky bit - but by that point it should be cheaper than copier paper ;-)

      Useful fact of the day - it absorbs ~2.3% of the light that goes through it, quite a lot for something so...thin!

      1. 080

        Re: "Is there anything the wonder material can't do?"

        Does that mean that it will protect your winkie from sunburn as well?

      2. Don Jefe

        Re: "Is there anything the wonder material can't do?"

        It is so expensive precisely because nobody really knows what to do with it. Most new materials undergo the same process where somebody finally figures out a practical use for it and the price continues to drop precipitously as more people get on board with it.

        When we first started doing large carbon fiber molding jobs about eight years ago the raw mat and cloth was still unbelievably expensive. Now the material is everywhere and you can buy enormous quantities without causing a global price spike. Same with aluminum, used to be the most valuable metal on the planet. When they covered the capstone of the Washington Monument in DC with aluminum it was considered pure decadence and ostentatious in the extreme. Now you can buy a couple of tons a week on a working mans wages.

        The driving force in bringing materials prices down isn't what most people think, it's fashion that's responsible. Titanium is probably the best, generally familiar, example. Titanium and it's alloys aren't a good choice for most things where you find it. It's extremely prone to galling, it bends fairly easily and costs a fortune to cast. It's usually not the correct choice from a materials perspective, but its been marketed to the consumer as a superior material and people demand it. The excess consumers are paying for an inferior material is used by manufacturers to drive down production costs and increase margins further. It's good stuff for people like me who buy the material in quantity.

        What graphene needs to succeed is a place on the fashion scene. An Oakley type marketing entity to make it popular with the expendable income crowd. Not a big scientific or military use (those drive prices up) but a popular application that's accessible to a large market. I don't think that popular application is going to be on somebody's willy...

        The risk with the material is they've skipped over all the steps that make a material feasible for use at scale and shot ahead into IP. I can order fissile material and have it shipped to me, along with a research and experiment kit but graphene doesn't even have that yet. It isn't really anything at this point. There's a very real risk that IP licensing crap will price the material forever beyond the means of the consumer and therefore quickly out of circulation. Another good idea strangled in its crib by people vying to dominate a secondary market. It's really risky and very stupid.

        1. attoman

          Re: "Is there anything the wonder material can't do?"

          Don Jefe (translation the Chief of the bosses)

          You blow hard but not accurately.

          Your assessment of TiAl alloys is not too far off the mark.

          Pure Ti or some of the higher performance alloys is both strong, heat resistant and corrosion resistant all this while being lighter and stronger then steel.

    3. deive

      Re: "Is there anything the wonder material can't do?"

      Hopefully not for too much longer...

    4. Wzrd1

      Re: "Is there anything the wonder material can't do?"

      Next, to make non-latex versions.

      There are a hell of a lot of folks out there who are allergic to latex.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Note to self, take a tradition condom back thru time to give to Mr Gates Snr, in order to save the world ......

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Give one to your dad instead.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      I spat cake - have an upvote!

  4. Ian Adams

    video adverts

    Actually not a comment on the story but the $%£^£ video advert for some microsoft product, the sound of which filled my whole open plan office while I scrabbled to work out were the hell it was coming from. Please can I read the news and eat my lunch in peace!!!!!!

    1. Mr Anonymous

      Re: video adverts

      What ads? Block just 5 hostnames and 97% of ads disappear.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: video adverts

        Only 5, please for the sake of sanity publish them.

    2. lunatik96

      Re: video adverts

      Check out adblock, I don't get hardly any ads and it tells you how many ads are being blocked

    3. Don Jefe

      Re: video adverts

      I get some sad little girl begging for either money or orthopedic shoes. I can't tell.

      I don't block ads on El Reg though. They've got to have solid metrics to sell advertisers space so we can enjoy the content they provide. I block on most other sites, but I figure doing what I can to help out a primary source of my news for nearly 10 years isn't too much of an ask...

  5. Shady

    To paraphrase

    The ability to hold back 640ml should be enough for anyone.

    1. malle-herbert Silver badge

      Re: To paraphrase

      Well... a condom does Embrace, Extend and Extinguish doesn't it ?

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: To paraphrase

        Well... a condom does Embrace, Extend and Extinguish doesn't it ?

        What? it gives the lady a cuddle afterwards?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To paraphrase

      Fortunately sperm counts don't follow Moore's Law - despite the depictions sometimes to be found in Audio-Visual Educational Resources for the Non-Juvenille Sector...

    3. M Gale

      Re: To paraphrase

      If you can let loose 640ml in one go, I believe there may be certain film producers interested in what you have to offer.

  6. Don Jefe

    Condoms have an incredibly wide size variance across the globe. I'm not just talking about those giant size hydrant covers either. Lots of work has gone into determining the 'best' size for each region of the planet, I'll be impressed if a single size of graphene condom can actually cope with the variance.

    I only know about the massive size variance because the marketing firm for a company I used to work for also managed the brands of 60 some odd brands of condoms. They had a campaign room setup in their offices and every available surface had condoms and condom wrappers attached. Just so many condoms. Anyway, the logos and tag lines on the wrappers are wrapper specific in order to retain 'optimal appearance' to minimize the effects of the imprint of the condom ring telegraphing through and distorting the logo. They spent weeks trying to define a universal size for each brand to reduce packaging costs.

    So that's my condom story. You're welcome.

    1. Steve Todd

      There's a joke from the Second World War. Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin were having a meeting. Churchill asks Stalin if there's anything he can do to improve his troop's moral. Stalin says yes, they need more condoms. Churchill says how many, and what size. One million, and the standard size for the Russian army, 12 inches he is told. Somewhat embarrassed by this he talks to Roosevelt afterwards and asks him what he should do. "Stamp them as medium and send them" he is told.

  7. Robinson


    It's going to cause cancer of the penis, isn't it.

    1. Natalie Gritpants

      Re: Cancer

      Who cares? It's made of graphene. Guaranteed to get you laid.

  8. JDX Gold badge

    a use for graphene which will literally touch our every-day life

    Every day? I wish!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A much cheaper method


    1. Lottie

      Re: A much cheaper method

      Because no-one has ever caught an STD that way.....

    2. M Gale

      Re: A much cheaper method

      Well that'll stop STDs, I'm sure.

      (Edit: Dammit. Ninja'd.)

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: A much cheaper method

        I agree that Sodomy won't stop STD's but it will slow down an ever increasing population that no one can take care of. Which I presumed was the major reason for the condoms.

        I don't believe for a moment that anyone will manage to make those people use the condoms anyway.

    3. lunatik96

      Re: A much cheaper method

      Until a kid shows up and the mother goat says ur the daaaaddy.

      You have to specify of which sodomy u reference.

      Incidentally some believe that is how STD's originated.

  10. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Makes a change...

    to make it out of the pencil lead instead of the rubber.

  11. toxicdragon

    Err, what?

    "while being more conductive than copper"

    They will probably need to fix that before I use this.

    1. M Gale

      Re: Err, what?

      Planning on making love atop a substation transformer?

      Strapping electrodes to your bollocks?

      A lightning rod to your gonads?

      Is your other half into some kind of TENS fetish?

      I'm wondering how conductive spermicidal lubricant is now, come to think of it.

      1. lunatik96

        Re: Err, what?

        thx 4 the suggestion, I can't wait

      2. Kaltern

        Re: Err, what?

        TENS fetish.


        I suppose a TASER would be much worse....

        1. toxicdragon

          Re: Err, what?

          Probably digging myself into an even deeper hole but TENS does not hurt that badly.

  12. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


    According to sci-fi author Joe Haldeman, but Dallas Barr never actually advertised the product. Come to think, he didn't mention using it either... mind you, his girlfriend had had a hysterectomy, and they had both been cleaned up at the Stileman hospital. She was a Mafia nun... in my opinion, more people should read Haldeman...

  13. fishman


    The condom would have to be made of graphene and some normal material that is elastic. If an edge of the graphene became exposed, it would give a nasty "papercut" - it could take off your kit in a flash.

    1. lunatik96

      Re: Dangerous?

      Some days, finding your "kit" is more important. The cut will let you know it is there. Ask a morbidly obese man when was the last time he saw his winkie w/o using a mirror.

  14. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up


    ... this will also stop bigotted African Bishops claiming that condoms don't prevent HIV!

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Hopefully...

      Graphene does appear to have powers of near mythical proportions, but I'm not sure its powers go that far...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hopefully...

      C'mon now, less bashing the bishop, I'm sure he's an upstanding member in the community.

  15. jelabarre59 Silver badge


    Now Bill Gates just needs to develop a version to stop the spread of MSWindows....

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Windom

      "Now Bill Gates just needs to develop a version to stop the spread of MSWindows...."

      Haven't you heard? Ballmer's Tablets, the quickest way to stop the spread of Windows!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    No jokes yet about this putting lead in your pencil...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. graphene

    Makes sense, pyrolytic graphite is a really good thermal conductor.

    It is also a fairly good electrical conductor.

    The main issues with using graphene are that being carbon based it might leave residue, but in all likelihood this would be less of an issue than even latex condoms.

    Plus you can "recycle" the used ones as supercapacitors once cleaned and sterilised.

  18. mIRCat

    Just another reason...

    That new graphene stuff really is Johnny on the spot.

    Er.. that is, you know.

    Coat for obvious reasons.

  19. MrDamage

    Lets just hope

    That they're more reliable than any of the other products Billy boy has put his name to. One rupture at a House of Negotiable Affection, and you may come home with a BSOD*.

    *Blue Schlong of Death.

  20. Michael Dunn

    Electrically conductive condoms - wow!

    I thought that graphene, being a monoatomic sheet of carbon was a net made up largely of hexagonal holes; is this what one wants in a condom?

    (OK, I know - spermatozoa are rather large compared to the inter atomic distances of atoms in graphite/ene, but it was just a thought. If you're trying to persuade people to use graphene condoms, you have to counter the idea those people might have that you're just selling them net curtains.)

    Raincoat, obviously (Thai slang for a condom!)

  21. Dylan Fahey

    Make some blimps and other airships!

    Make some blimps and other airships out of the stuff! Then offer free graphene condoms for the first rides purchased !

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019