Artificial hearts can be clunky and flawed, but making one out of foam could be an efficient and reliable solution.
A flexible plastic solution
The creation of flexible plastics has allowed incredible structures to be built that change and move in response to air pressure alone, raising hope for clinical applications including creation of artificial organs. One problem was how to get the air through complicated structures, but researchers from Cornell University dealt with this by creating a porous, plastic foam heart. The air feeds through the structure like blood saturates heart tissue via a network of vessels.
They created a heart that responds to air and pumps liquid through two chambers. The pumping action is concealed by a plastic coating, and the foam expands and contracts within. The structure is too simplistic for human usage yet (and only has 2 chambers whereas human hearts have 4), but it's a promising start. Imaginative solutions like this can provide cheaper, more effective engineering alternatives to complex machines used in hospitals today. This design is extremely simple, but could turn out to be an elegant, life-saving solution.
“It shows the three-dimensional complexity we can get from our process, but also we believe it has the potential, after further development, to be a viable replacement for a heart"
Read more at The New Scientist