Sequencing by Synthesis (SBS) Technology

Illumina sequencing technology, sequencing by synthesis (SBS), is the most successful and widely adopted next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology worldwide. Illumina sequencing instruments and reagents support massively parallel sequencing using a proprietary method that detects single bases as they are incorporated into growing DNA strands.

SBS Chemistry

A fluorescently labeled reversible terminator is imaged as each dNTP is added, and then cleaved to allow incorporation of the next base. Since all 4 reversible terminator-bound dNTPs are present during each sequencing cycle, natural competition minimizes incorporation bias.

The end result is true base-by-base sequencing that enables the industry's most accurate data for a broad range of applications. The method virtually eliminates errors and missed calls associated with strings of repeated nucleotides (homopolymers).

Applications of SBS Technology

Diverse library preparation methods enable a variety of sequencing applications, such as whole-genome sequencing, de novo sequencing, candidate region targeted resequencingDNA sequencing, RNA sequencing (for applications such as transcriptome and small RNA analysis), methylation analysis, and protein-nucleic acid interaction analysis (ChIP-Seq).

Further Advantages of SBS Technology

Illumina sequencing by synthesis technology supports both single-read and paired-end libraries. SBS technology is the only platform that offers a short-insert paired-end capability for high-resolution genome sequencing, as well as long-insert paired-end reads for efficient sequence assembly, de novo sequencing, structural variation detection, and more.

The combination of short inserts and longer reads increases the ability to fully characterize any genome.

SBS Technology Breakthrough

Find out how 2-channel SBS, a recent evolution of SBS technology, enables faster sequencing with the same high data accuracy.

Learn more about 2-channel SBS »

Sequencing Machines

View Illumina sequencing systems

Find the right sequencing platform »

View sequencer comparison table »

Sequencing Technology Video

Illumina Sequencing TechnologyIllumina Sequencing Technology

See SBS technology in action.

Desktop Sequencing Machine


The NextSeq Series enables everyday genome, exome, transcriptome sequencing, and more.
View System »

Improve Your Sequencing Results

NextSeq 500 v2 Kits offer better data quality, an improved signal to noise ratio, and a simpler workflow.
View Kits »

Illumina Sequencing Introduction

Read an in-depth introduction to Illumina sequencing technology.
Read Introduction (PDF) »

Maximum Throughput

See how patterned flow cell technology dramatically increases sequencing data throughput.
Learn More »

Publication Reviews

Find highlights of recently published research using Illumina sequencing technology.
Read Reviews »