In order for next-generation sequencing to become widely used as a diagnostic in the healthcare industry, sequencing instrumentation will need to be mass produced with a high degree of quality and economy. One way to achieve this is to recast DNA sequencing in a format that fully leverages the manufacturing base created for computer chips, complementary metal-oxide semiconductor chip fabrication, which is the current pinnacle of large scale, high quality, low-cost manufacturing of high technology. To achieve this, ideally the entire sensory apparatus of the sequencer would be embodied in a standard semiconductor chip, manufactured in the same fab facilities used for logic and memory chips. Recently, such a sequencing chip, and the associated sequencing platform, has been developed and commercialized by Ion Torrent, a division of Life Technologies, Inc. Here we provide an overview of this semiconductor chip based sequencing technology, and summarize the progress made since its commercial introduction. We described in detail the progress in chip scaling, sequencing throughput, read length, and accuracy. We also summarize the enhancements in the associated platform, including sample preparation, data processing, and engagement of the broader development community through open source and crowdsourcing initiatives.
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