Researchers are trying to create microchips that function like neurons:

“Energy efficiency isn’t just a matter of elegance. It fundamentally limits what we can do with computers,” [Kwabena Boahen, a Stanford scientist] says. Despite the amazing progress in electronics technologytoday’s transistors are 1/100,000 the size that they were a half century ago, and computer chips are 10 million times fasterwe still have not made meaningful progress on the energy front. And if we do not, we can forget about truly intelligent humanlike machines and all the other dreams of radically more powerful computers...Most modern supercomputers are the size of a refrigerator and devour $100,000 to $1 million of electricity per year. Boahen’s Neurogrid will fit in a briefcase, run on the equivalent of a few D batteries, and yet, if all goes well, come close to keeping up with these Goliaths.