A New Artificial Heart Pump That Mimics the Real Thing

Ferrofluid Heart

Suprock Technologies

Today's artificial hearts contain pumps whose spinning rotors can damage blood cells, causing clotting that can lead to strokes. A new pump design could prevent that damage by mimicking the natural movement of human tissue.

Christopher Suprock, founder of product-design firm Suprock Technologies, made the demonstration pump using flexible membranes and a ferrofluid, or magnetic liquid. Suprock injected the ferrofluid between two 0.005-inch-thick elastic membranes and placed an electromagnet less than an inch away. When the electromagnet is turned on, it attracts the ferrofluid, stretching the membrane toward the magnet. When the electromagnet is off, the membrane springs back to its original position. Suprock says his next step is to team up with a medical-device maker, refine the design, and test it in a living animal.