Bend me, shape me… into a heart

The human body has lots of soft muscular systems that bend, twist, extend, and flex in complex ways. Robotic systems that try to emulate these biological workhorses have usually fallen well short, but a team of researchers at Harvard has developed a low-cost, programmable soft actuated material which can replicate the biological motions of the heart.

Replicating the motions of a heart is tricky because healthy hearts do their own version of the twist. Rather than a simple pumping action, they circulate blood as if they were wringing a towel. The bottom of the heart twists as it contracts in a counterclockwise direction while the top twists clockwise. Scientists call this the left ventricular twist.

“Most models of the heart used today do not mimic its 3D motion,” said lead researcher Ellen Roche. “They only take flow into account.” What’s missing is the essential twisting motion that the heart uses to pump blood efficiently.

The heart moves the way it does because of its bundles of striated muscle fibers, which are oriented spirally in the same direction and work together to effect motion. To mimic those muscles fibers, the team first developed a modified pneumatic artificial muscle (PAM), made entirely from soft material – silicone elastomer with embedded braided mesh – and attached via tubing to an air supply. Upon pressurization, PAMs shorten, like biological muscles, but in one direction only.

The team then embedded several of these artificial muscles within a matrix made of the same soft silicone elastomer. By changing their orientation and configuration within the matrix and applying pressure, they were able to achieve various motions in more than one direction, mimicking the complex motion of the heart. “That was a great moment,” Roche said. “It means that now we have proof of concept that we can in fact mimic the heart’s natural 3D motion.”

“We drew our inspiration for the soft actuated material from the elegant design of the heart,” added co-researcher Conor Walsh. “This approach could inspire better surgical training tools and implantable heart devices, and opens new possibilities in the emerging field of soft robotics for devices that assist other organs as well.”

Related:
Discuss this article in our forum
Sperm-like biological robot displays “remarkable” self-organization
Successful transplant of bioengineered rat kidney
Proton-based transistor could control biological processes
Artificial jellyfish shows new route to synthetic organisms

Source: Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

, , ,

Comments are closed.

Army Artificial Heart  Medical Engineering Lab Research Prototype Rare Museum  picture

Army Artificial Heart Medical Engineering Lab Research Prototype Rare Museum

$28500.00



Thoratec LVAD Mock Loop Artificial Heart Study System Collectible  picture

Thoratec LVAD Mock Loop Artificial Heart Study System Collectible

$6850.00



1966 Wire Photo EARLY ARTIFICIAL HEART AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER picture

1966 Wire Photo EARLY ARTIFICIAL HEART AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER

$20.00



1976 Press Photo Drs. Noon and Shumakov compare soviet-American artificial heart picture

1976 Press Photo Drs. Noon and Shumakov compare soviet-American artificial heart

$19.99



1966 Artificial Heart Implanted In Patient By Heart Surgeon Medicine Photo 6X8 picture

1966 Artificial Heart Implanted In Patient By Heart Surgeon Medicine Photo 6X8

$19.99



1966 Press Photo Artificial heart - Indiana University School of Medicine picture

1966 Press Photo Artificial heart - Indiana University School of Medicine

$16.99



1986 Robert Creswell artificial heart recipient & wife Hershey Wire Press Photo picture

1986 Robert Creswell artificial heart recipient & wife Hershey Wire Press Photo

$17.00



1983 Press Photo Artificial heart patient Barney Clark with John Durkin in Utah picture

1983 Press Photo Artificial heart patient Barney Clark with John Durkin in Utah

$14.99



Dr.Denton A Cooley > Artificial Heart Transplant , Hand Signed Photo picture

Dr.Denton A Cooley > Artificial Heart Transplant , Hand Signed Photo

$95.98



Denton Cooley Signed 3x5 Index Card Autographed Surgeon First Artificial Heart picture

Denton Cooley Signed 3x5 Index Card Autographed Surgeon First Artificial Heart

$45.00



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes