Date of Award

8-2014

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor

Mohsen Shahinpoor

Second Committee Member

Vincent Caccese

Third Committee Member

Xudong Zheng

Abstract

Right Atrial fibrillation is one of the common heart diseases that over 2 million Americans suffer from nowadays. It has been a very complicated disease that cardiologists and heart surgeons have had a hard time finding out a solution to resolve. As it is known atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart-beat that is caused by misfiring electrical impulses inside of the atria which results in poor transfer of blood from the atria to the ventricle. This obstacle leads to more complications to the patient’s body such as causing the patient to have a heart attack or a stroke, which in both cases very dangerous and lead to death. Common treatments such as catheter ablation, electrical cardioversion or use of medical drugs may help but for those who have chronic atrial fibrillation these treatments will not help in the long run.

In the last two decades, Mechanical and Biomedical Engineers are looking into a new approach to help correct the right atrial fibrillation problem. Ionic Polymer Metal Composite materials (IPMC’s) have been looked into. IPMC’s as smart materials can be used in many biomedical applications. Ionic polymer -metal composites (IPMCs) are electroactive polymers (EAPs), they are a synthetic composite material that have been recently developed. IPMCs are an effective material for actuators and sensors as they have built-in actuation and sensing capabilities, and in an electric field they behave similarly to biological muscles. Various mechanical and chemical manufacturing techniques are used for creating IPMCs.

IPMCs are excellent sensors that generate reasonably high sensing outputs (in terms of millivolts) that can be used for sensing, transduction and harvesting energy from any dynamic environment such as wind or ocean waves. IPMCs also work perfectly well in a wet environment, which makes them such excellent candidates for medical applications in biomedical engineering field such as active guide wires and endovascular steeres and stirrers for navigation in human blood vasculature, artificial muscles for surgical correction of ptosis or the eyelid droop syndrome, ophthalmological and vision improvement applications, artificial muscles to correct facial paralysis such as Bell’s palsy, and artificial muscles for assisting a weak heart, etc.

This thesis will demonstrate how IPMC’s can become the new approach in assisting with right atrial fibrillation of the heart. By designing a solid-state silicone rubber model of the heart, it helps to determine the pressure and force applied by the right atrium during contraction, and using these data and calculations to create a suitable shape of IPMC to fit around the right atrium. The use of a pacemaker is required to synchronize the IPMC muscle with the original heart-beat, so it will be able to squeeze the right atrium at the correct rhythm to pump blood from the right atrium chamber into the right ventricle chamber. This helps the right atrium to return to its original pace and rhythm with a tapping motion applied to it by a strip of IPMC.

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