Trapped micro-cylinders act a bit like neurons

Dec 20, 2010

Researchers from TU Delft's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience and the Institut Non Linéaire de Nice, have shown that certain physical properties of rotating microscopic cylinders resemble those of communicating neurons, for example.

Both the micro-cylinders and the 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.

For the purposes of this study, the researchers employed optical torque tweezers. This unique instrument is capable of measuring both the force and angular momentum exerted on microscopic objects, including biological molecules such as DNA.

Explore further: The unifying framework of symmetry reveals properties of a broad range of physical systems

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Gluing particles together on the micro- and nano-scale

Jun 14, 2009

Researchers at New York University have created a method to precisely bind nano- and micrometer-sized particles together into larger-scale structures with useful materials properties. Their work, which appears in the latest ...

Scientists generate rotating electron beams

Sep 17, 2010

A team of EU-funded scientists has come up with a way of generating rotating electron beams. The technique, described in the journal Nature, could be used to probe the magnetic properties of materials and co ...

Recommended for you

What time is it in the universe?

4 hours ago

Flavor Flav knows what time it is. At least he does for Flavor Flav. Even with all his moving and accelerating, with the planet, the solar system, getting on planes, taking elevators, and perhaps even some ...

Watching the structure of glass under pressure

22 hours ago

Glass has many applications that call for different properties, such as resistance to thermal shock or to chemically harsh environments. Glassmakers commonly use additives such as boron oxide to tweak these ...

Inter-dependent networks stress test

Aug 28, 2014

Energy production systems are good examples of complex systems. Their infrastructure equipment requires ancillary sub-systems structured like a network—including water for cooling, transport to supply fuel, and ICT systems ...

Explainer: How does our sun shine?

Aug 28, 2014

What makes our sun shine has been a mystery for most of human history. Given our sun is a star and stars are suns, explaining the source of the sun's energy would help us understand why stars shine. ...

User comments : 0