Having just recently snapped up sequencing firm Ion Torrent, Life Technologies has now announced the availability of a benchtop DNA sequencing device based on its PostLight semiconductor technology. The company says that this ground-breaking and disruptive platform creates a direct link between chemical bases and digital information, and negates the need for light-based detection technology currently used in other sequencing solutions.

In spite of its name, the Personal Genome Machine (PGM) is not intended for diagnostic or therapeutic use, but for research purposes. It uses an array of parallel semiconductor sensors to measure hydrogen ions produced during DNA replication in real-time. The first product to use semiconductor sequencing technology, it offers a unique combination of integrated fluidics, micromachining, and semiconductor technology that allows the machine to perform direct translation of genetic information into digital information.

"Point-and-shoot digital cameras opened up photography to everyone because they were fast, cheap and easy – and people saw the results immediately, so they quickly became better photographers," said Dr. Jonathan M. Rothberg, founder of Ion Torrent. "That's what Ion is doing for DNA sequencing."

Weighing 65 pounds (approximately 30kg) and about the same size as a printer, the PGM sports a touchscreen interface, an iPhone/iPod Touch dock, and is reported to give results in just a couple of hours.

Ion says that the scalable solution is shipping to selected sites in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, with priority being given to those ordering multiple units. Pricing details are available on request.