The Great Dna Chip Derby

Companies are racing to build them faster and cheaper

In a small room in the University of Wisconsin's Biotechnology Center in Madison, graduate student Roland D. Green peers down at an array of thousands of tiny mirrors protected by a stainless-steel frame. A DNA synthesizer, a beige box roughly the size of a microwave oven, is tethered to the array by a tangled mess of wires and tubing. The whole system is controlled by a desktop computer. This crudely assembled hodgepodge is an example of a new technology that will revolutionize molecular biology in the next decade or two. The machine makes DNA chips that will do for biology what microprocessors did for computers.

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