Engineers at the University of Massachusetts are developing microprocessors which mimic biological synapses – the nerve cells which pass messages across the human body.
The science fiction-style project is being undertaken by Joshua Yang and Qiangfei Xia, professors of electrical and computer engineering at the US college.
Their work focuses heavily on memristors – a computer component which could change science forever, switching the focus from electronics to ionics.
This means computers of the near-future will be able to shut on and off like a lightbulb, not losing any data or files in the process.
Different researchers and developers, including Mr Yang and Mr Xia, are now racing to be the first to harness this technology and use it to create a new generation of computers.
Professor Jennifer Rupp said: “I think there is a race going on. There is a strong driving force, but at the same time it’s very important that there are players like HP, because they want to get to the market, show everyone that this is real.”