Sequencing by Synthesis (SBS) Technology

Illumina sequencing technology, sequencing by synthesis (SBS), is a widely adopted next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology worldwide, responsible for generating more than 90% of the world's sequencing data.1 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 accurate data for a broad range of applications. The method virtually eliminates errors and missed calls associated with strings of repeated nucleotides (homopolymers).

Further Advantages of SBS Technology

Illumina sequencing by synthesis technology supports both single-read and paired-end libraries. SBS technology 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.

Learn More About SBS Benefits »

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 Instruments

View Illumina sequencing systems

View All Illumina NGS Platforms »

Use Our Platform Selection Tool »

Using SBS Technology to Solve Problems

See how researchers are applying Illumina sequencing technology in these areas:



    1. Data calculations on file. Illumina, Inc. 2015.

Sequencing Technology Video

Illumina Sequencing TechnologyIllumina Sequencing Technology

See SBS technology in action.

Sequencing Techniques

Explore a variety of methods enabled by SBS, from whole-genome to RNA sequencing and more. Find comprehensive workflow solutions.
Learn More »

Benchtop 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 compared to the prior v1 kit.
View Kits »

Illumina Sequencing Introduction

This overview describes major sequencing technology advances, key methods, the basics of Illumina sequencing chemistry, and more.
Read Introduction »

Maximum Throughput

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