Jonathan Rothberg may be turning into the Steve Jobs of biotechnology, and soon even for nanotechnology as well. Take a look at his latest company, Raindance Technologies.
He is developing a system that he claims will do for lab analysis what the microchip and Personal Computer did for information technology. I see more of a telecom analogy -- the way packet-switching networks were an improvement over continuous-circuit communications. But it could potentially banish lab glassware, as the transistor did to the vacuum tube. This Personal Laboratory System will generate and route 2500 packets (droplets) per second through its network of microfluidic channels -- that's nearly 10 million per hour -- allowing a myriad of analytical procedures to be done on each one. Go to the Technology page on that site, and click on some of the icons in the sidebar, to see how it operates.
Imagine the implications for combinatorial chemistry or complex synthesis, whether for bio-engineered organisms or assembly of sophisticated nano-bots. Imagine for example that each droplet could act like an egg, gestating and hatching an individual bio-organism or nano-device. At an output rate of almost 10 million per hour, you could create a small army of them very quickly. Or you could do a complex set of analyses to decode a genome very quickly.
Meanwhile, here is a 2-part feature on the company Rothberg first became famous for founding, 454 Life Sciences, and how the gene-reader he invented could change the face of bio-medicine:
Part I and Part II.