A materials scientist with the University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology has developed a unique polyurethane coating that could lead to better golf balls and condoms.
The coating is made from synthetic nanoparticles – nanoscale disc-like particles – that can be added to conventional thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) to extend its performance. TPUs are used in everything from surfing leg ropes and rollerblade wheels, to soles on shoes and textiles and fabrics like Lycra.
And while many great scientific discoveries can be attributed to a burning desire to help humankind, Dr Martin’s inspiration was much simpler. ‘I’m a single-figure golfer and I was getting frustrated with paying a lot of money for balls that only end up getting damaged after a few holes,’ Dr Martin said.
‘We had been working with these nanocomposites for a while and this just seemed like a natural fit. By coating golf balls in a thin layer of our new polyurethane it can make them much more scuff resistant.’
While presently in talks with a golf ball manufacturer, Dr Martin and his team are also exploring other applications.
‘The condom is another example of where our technology might be applied. We could make softer and thinner condoms that allow greater sensitivity and are actually stronger than current ones, while also reducing the risk of allergic response which some people have to latex rubber. We can all see the advantages of that,’ he said.