ETH develops a Silicone heart – a soft artificial heart

The artificial heart imitates a human heart as closely as possible. (Photo: Zurich Heart)

ETH researchers from the Functional Materials Laboratory in collaboration with colleagues from the Product Development Group Zurich have developed and tested a silicone heart that beats almost like a human heart.

The goal of the first entirely soft artificial heart is to mimic its natural model as closely as possible. The silicone heart has been developed by Nicholas Cohrs, a doctoral student in the group.

In a well-functioning artificial heart, the blood pumps help to bridge the waiting time until a patient receives a donor heart or their own heart recovers.

The soft artificial heart was created from silicone using a 3D, lost-wax casting technique; it weighs 390 g and has a volume of 679 cm3. This artificial heart has a right and a left ventricle, just like a real human heart, and they are separated by an additional chamber, which is inflated and deflated by pressurized air and is required to pump fluid from the blood chambers, thus replacing the muscle contraction of the human heart.