DNA Laser printing & COVID

A project log for open hardware fast high resolution LASER

bringing additive manufacturing to the next level

HexastormHexastorm 01/19/2021 at 16:490 Comments

Recently, I was reading upon the character-by-character reconstruction of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine .
Most of us, will end up with this in their bloodstream so I thought it was rather interesting. It turns out there was a startup which produced DNA using laser printing . Austen Heinz gives a good presentation of this process below, scroll to time 10.24 min

The startup Cambrian Genomics was founded by Mr. Heinz in 2014. The startup no longer exists and seems to have faced many difficulties. They did manage to raise over 10 million USD. Austen Heinz committed suicide at the age of 31 on May 24, 2015.
His patents are still around, see US 10,822,605 B2 which got awarded in November 2020.
As there are still people funding the patents, there must be people working on it. I looked into the patents for details on the required accuracies. You need optics which provide an accuracy of around 1 micron.  This accuracy could be possible with prisms, if you have a reasonable budget. Process uses laser induced forward transfer or laser catapulting.

Quote from patent;

Methods of using emulsion-PCR derived beads by the present assignee have been based on the fact that the bead itself serves as a decent ablation substrate for the approx 1 microJoule nanosecond laser pulse used to induce transfer.
Beads from 1 to 10 micrometers are easily and specifically ejected by focusing light into their plane.
Although ejection optics disclosed by the present assignee can target features as small as 600 nm, it is desirable to generate slightly larger, more disperse 1 micron clusters for use with initial prototyping.