Building Valveless Impedance Pumps From Biological Components: Progress and Challenges

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Frontiers in physiology






Liebau mechanism; biofabrication; heart development; tissue engineering; valveless pumping


Valveless pumping based on Liebau mechanism entails asymmetrical positioning of the compression site relative to the attachment sites of the pump's elastic segment to the rest of the circuit. Liebau pumping is believed to play a key role during heart development and be involved in several other physiological processes. Until now studies of Liebau pump have been limited to numerical analyses, modeling, experiments using non-biological elements, and a few indirect measurements. This review aims to stimulate experimental efforts to build Liebau pumps using biologically compatible materials in order to encourage further exploration of the fundamental mechanisms behind valveless pumping and its role in organ physiology. The covered topics include the biological occurrence of Liebau pumps, the main differences between them and the peristaltic flow, and the potential uses and body sites that can benefit from implantable valveless pumps based on Liebau principle. We then provide an overview of currently available tools to build such pumps and touch upon limitations imposed by the use of biological components. We also talk about the many variables that can impact Liebau pump performance, including the concept of resonant frequencies, the shape of the flowrate-frequency relationship, the flow velocity profiles, and the Womersley numbers. Lastly, the choices of materials to build valveless impedance pumps and possible modifications to increase their flow output are briefly discussed.


Pharmacology and Physiology