Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has ordered a national security review of a takeover by a Chinese academic of a small Welsh manufacturer of graphene – the thinnest and lightest “supermaterial” known.
In a rare move, Kwarteng instructed the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to review the planned takeover of Perpetuus Group by Taurus International or any companies associated with Dr Zhongfu Zhou.
Zhou, who is listed as “chief nanotechnology scientist” on Perpetuus’s website, has business interests in China and has spent years working on the wonder material.
Perpetuus, which has three sites in south Wales, makes graphene and carbon nanotubes, materials that are hoped to have useful applications in an array of industries ranging from electronics and defence to medicine and making super-strength condoms. The materials are extraordinary electrical conductors and can be stronger than steel.
It’s been hailed as the new wonder-material, set to revolutionise everything from circuit boards to food packaging, a magic super-strength membrane that is barely there at all. Now, thanks to the unlikely sex champion Bill Gates, graphene could be used to make the thinnest, lightest, most impenetrable condom ever conceived.
“The common analogy is that wearing a condom is like taking a shower with a raincoat on,” says Dr Papa Salif Sow, senior program officer on the HIV team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has awarded $100,000 (£60,000) to scientists at the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute to aid their pursuit of the ultimate super-sheath. “A redesigned condom that overcomes inconvenience, fumbling or perceived loss of pleasure would be a powerful weapon in the fight against poverty.”
At only one atom thick, an all-graphene condom would put the Durex Ultra Thin to shame – although the fact that the material is barely visible to the naked eye could lead to some awkward moments between the sheets. A slight ruffle of the duvet and could it just float away?
Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, who will lead the research team, explains the focus is on developing a composite material, with latex, “tailored to enhance the natural sensation during intercourse while using a condom, which should encourage and promote condom use.”