Brisbane, Australia - Fed up with replacing worn out golf balls? So was keen golfer Dr Darren Martin, a researcher at the University of Queensland. He decided to use a development from his work on nanocomposites to make the balls more wear-resistant.
??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," Martin said, in a university statement.
"We had been working with these nanocomposites for a while and this just seemed like a natural fit.
"Coating the ball in a thin layer of our new polyurethane," makes it "much more scuff resistant," Martin added.
The research team at UQ's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology is now in discussion with a golf ball manufacturer, as well as exploring other applications.
Materials scientist Martin's development - a unique coating of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) that is thinner, stronger and more flexible than anything currently available - could lead to both better golf balls and condoms.
The secret of the material's strength lies in the use of synthetic nanoparticles - tiny disc-like particles - that can be added to a conventional TPU to extend its benefits and performance.
TPUs are widely used in sports applications such as surfing leg ropes and roller-blade wheels, in shoe soles and textiles and in spandex fabrics.
Another potential use is in condoms, where, "We could make softer and thinner condoms that allow greater sensitivity and are actually stronger than current ones," said Martin, adding that this would also reduce the risk of any allergic response to latex.
This technology can be applied anywhere that polyurethane is used, he said, including implantable medical device components, the mining industry and new types of textiles similar to spandex.
Martin is working on commercialisation through TenasiTech Pty Ltd, a start-up company formed around the technology by UniQuest, which is UQ's main technology transfer company.