Trapped micro-cylinders act a bit like neurons: "Both the micro-cylinders and the neurons are 'excitable', i.e. they respond to an external disturbance by producing a pulse (e.g. a voltage) of a given, fixed size. The results of this study was published online on the Nature Physics website on December 19th.
Simultaneously, the researchers have shown that the rotating micro-cylinders can detect the presence of microscopic particles in liquid. This is because the presence of such particles in the vicinity of a rotating micro-cylinder produces a clearly measurable disturbance in the torque experienced by the cylinder. This provides a means of detecting, counting, or separating cells (or other microscopic particles) in liquids."