Scientists Create Functioning Artificial Hearts Out Of Foam

Artificial Hearts made out of special foam could save lives soon

Artificial hearts till date have only been so and so like the real ones. They carry out blood circulation, but are traditionally blocks of machinery looking like a robot part embedded in a human body.

The latest development in the medical field is all set to change the scenario. The scientists at Cornell University have developed a squishy heart that does all the work of the real thing, even looking like the organ as well.

The new breakthrough model is made out of foam, an elastomer foam polymer, that is soft and stretchable. The elastomer foam can be poured into moulds to form different shapes and has pores that let it pump blood. It is also more efficient and uses less energy.

The poroelastic silicone foam hearts are created by pouring the liquid polymer into 3D printed moulds. Once set, the foam hearts can be stretched by 300% its own length. Carbon fibers have been used in the outer layer for strength, by Cornell University’s Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering teams.

Creating hearts out of this special foam enables organs to be easily customized for the needs of individual patients. Also, the material has the potential to get FDA approval, say the scientists.

“We used this material because it has the potential to get FDA approval,” Rob Shepherd, leader of the team, said in a video.

“[And] because it is highly stretchable — you can stretch it by over 600 percent its initial length. We can change the pores inside of it, so we can get more or less connectivity across the material for our fluid to pass through it. It’s also very soft, so we don’t have to apply a lot of pressure to get the fluid to move through the pores.”

Further research can lead to the development of prosthetic body parts with the special material. Also, soft robotics could use the foam for more natural feeling surfaces.

“(Testing) shows the three-dimensional complexity we can get from our process … we believe it has the potential, after further development, to be a viable replacement for a heart,” Shepherd adds.

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