Cornell foam heart


Researchers at Cornell University have a new polymer foam with characteristics that can be useful when making prosthetic devices or replacement organs such as a functioning heart.

One feature is that the material can be poured into molds to create items of a specific size and shape. The resulting foam has pores that are connected, which means that the material can be made to expand or contract by injecting or removing air or liquid. The elastic foam can expand its length to as much as three times its original size. By adding an outer layer made of silicone and carbon fiber, the expansion can be constrained in specified directions. This means that a spherical device can become egg-shaped when expanded.

The foam can be used to create an artificial heart with different chambers that can expand and contract as needed. The same material can also be used to create prosthetic hands and limbs, with components that can be actuated to move, such as fingers that can move independently to grasp objects or perform other tasks.