Photo: Courtesy of Gene Machines
 SEEING SPOTS: Microarraying devices automate the task of arraying the hundreds or thousands of samples typically found on biochips. Shown here is Gene Machine's OmniGrid Accent, a contact-based printer with 48 pins that is capable of placing over 100,000 75-µm features on a standard microscope.

Today's "big science" is all about high throughput, a concept elegantly epitomized by the DNA microarray. Biochips let researchers analyze the expression of thousands of genes simultaneously for applications ranging from genomic research to drug development to diagnostics. But the sheer power of this technology comes at a price, in terms of both expense and experimental complexity.

Fundamentally, the quality of the microarray itself directly affects the reliability of the resultant data. With commercial arrays, researchers generally have little control over quality. But when they make their own arrays, quality control becomes a central issue.

GEARING UP Scientists should first...

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