Thermo Fisher Scientific develops a unique solution based on Ion Torrent® technology, with a manufacturing process entirely CMOS compatible

Thermo Fisher Ion 520 DNA Sequencing Chip report from System Plus Consulting – July 2017


  • Diagnostics, point-of-care and pharmaceutical research will drive the rapidly-expanding microfluidic products industry to a potential value of US$23 billion by 2022.
  • Thermo Fisher Ion 520 DNA sequencing chip: next generation of silicon/polymer microfluidic technology for fast throughput DNA sequencing from Thermo Fisher Ion Torrent®.
  • Today a main challenge in life science research is to reduce the price of genomic analysis, and the time taken to do it.
  • Back in 2003, the cost of sequencing the human genome was almost US$3 billion. That decreased to US$10,000 in 2011, and is headed towards US$1,000 in the next few years.

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LYON, France – August 1, 2017: Thermo Fisher Scientific, holding 8% of the microfluidic product market, is one of the leading companies in sequencing technologies. Thermo Fisher Scientific’s strategy is based on a reduction of analysis time with fast throughput and short single-end reads. To deliver fast reading, Thermo Fisher Scientific develops a unique solution based on Ion Torrent® technology, which relies on technology similar to an image sensor.
System Plus Consulting releases today a complete analysis of the Ion 520 chip from Thermo Fisher featuring disassembly and die analyses, processes and cross-sections, including a full cost analysis and selling price estimation. Under this new reverse engineering and costing report, the company highlights the complexity of Ion Torrent® technology that presents an impressive 3D architecture, mixing of wells and canals.
What is Ion Torrent® technology? What are the benefits of Thermo Fisher Scientific’s chip? What are the manufacturing processes and related costs?... System Plus Consulting offers you a relevant technology overview of one of the latest sequencing product of Thermo Fisher Scientific. What is inside?

Thermo Fisher Scientific is showing a US$18.3 billion sales revenue in 2016. Created in 1956 as a laboratory product and services supplier, the company has grown to become a leading player within the microfluidics industry with the development of innovative technologies as well as multiple acquisitions. Ion Torrent acquisition was part of them, through the acquisition of Life Technologies in 2013.

Pharmaceutical and life science research remain the fastest growing segment in the microfluidics market, with a 20% expected growth between 2017 and 2022 (1) . Sébastien Clerc, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole Développement confirms: “This industry is driven by silicon/glass chips for genomics and proteomics applications, in particular high-end consumables for next-generation sequencing”.

“Thermo Fisher Scientific’s product, based on Ion Torrent’s technology is a powerful and cost-effective sensor chip”, comments Stéphane Elisabeth, Cost Engineer at System Plus Consulting.“The manufacturing process is entirely CMOS compatible. Surprisingly it uses well proven standard packaging with a proprietary flow chamber design.”

The innovative Ion 520 DNA sequencing chip uses this Ion Torrent technology. It includes a multiwell array, in which spherical particles that have DNA attached are trapped. The particles are sequentially flooded with solutions of nucleotides, which changes the charge in the wells when the introduced nucleotide is complementary to the leading unpaired nucleotide on the DNA strand. This results in pH change in the concerned well which is detected by the circuit and allows the DNA sequencing. With several materials involved in the chip manufacturing, 3D silicon design, polymers for microfluidic processing and its special assembly, the component appears to have a very high level of complexity.
Thermo Fisher Scientific relies on TSMC’s expertise on silicon substrate to develop the Ion Torrent® chips.

System Plus Consulting’s report includes a complete analysis of the Ion 520 chip from Thermo Fisher, featuring chip disassembly and die analyses, processes and cross-sections. It contains a full cost analysis and a selling price estimation of the component. A detailed description of this analysis is available: Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Yole Group of companies including System Plus Consulting and Yole Développement is part of Lab-on-a-Chip & Microfluidics World Congress 2017 program with a booth and a comprehensive presentation focused on the status of microfluidics industry. This presentation will highlight market figures, technology trends and use cases. To meet our analysts, please contact: Maureen Peron.

(1) Source : Statut of the Microfluidics Industry report, Yole Développement, 2017

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