A revolutionary new electronic membrane is being created by scientists that could replace pacemakers forever.
It is fitted over a heart to keep it beating regularly over an indefinite period of time, the Independent reported.
The device uses a "spider-web-like network of sensors and electrodes" to continuously monitor the heart's electrical activity and could, in the future, deliver electrical shocks maintain a healthy heart-rate.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis used computer modelling technology and a 3D-printer to create a prototype membrane and fit it to a rabbit's heart, keeping the organ operating perfect "outside of the body in a nutrient and oxygen-rich solution".
The use of high-resolution imaging technology means that unlike current pacemaker and implantable defibrillator technology, the thin, elastic membrane will be custom-made to fit "snugly" over the real heart.
Biomedical engineer Igor Efimov of Washington University, who helped design and test the device, said that when it senses such a catastrophic event as a heart attack or arrhythmia, it can also apply a high definition therapy.
Efimov told local radio station KWMU-1 that it can apply stimuli, electrical stimuli, from different locations on the device in an optimal fashion to stop this arrhythmia and prevent sudden cardiac death.
The research is published in the journal Nature Communications.