Researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison recently reported on a new penile implant designed to help men with erectile dysfunction. The device relies on nitinol, a memory alloy composed of nickel and titanium that was developed at the now defunct Naval Ordnance Laboratory. The metal responds to temperature changes by changing its shape, and the implant takes a compact bent shape when at body temperature while erecting into an impressively straight shape once it is warmed up slightly.
So far the device is in an early stage of development and a mechanism will need to be designed for the patient to erect it as the sparks begin to fly. The researchers are working on a system that uses electric induction, which would involve waving a special device over the penis and watching as it magically becomes upright.
From the study abstract in journal Urology:
A penile prosthesis consisting of an exoskeleton of temperature-tuned Nitinol was designed and prototyped. Mechanical testing was performed in a model of penile buckling, penile lateral deviation, and original penile shape recovery commonly used by penile prosthesis manufacturers for testing.
Our SMA penile prosthesis demonstrated useful mechanical characteristics, including rigidity to buckling when activated similar to an inflatable penile prosthesis (2.62 kgf SMA vs 1.42 kgf inflatable penile prosthesis vs 6.45 kgf for a malleable prosthesis). The Ni-Ti also became more pliable when deactivated within acceptable mechanical ranges of existing devices. It could be repeatedly cycled and generate a restorative force to become erect.
Here’s a quick video demonstrating how the device responds to temperature changes:
Study in journal Urology: A Novel Thermal-activated Shape Memory Penile Prosthesis: Comparative Mechanical Testing…