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Although electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) detection has tremendous potential in lab on chip-based point-of-care disease diagnostics, the wider use of microchip electrophoresis has been limited by the size and cost of the instrumentation. To address this challenge, the authors designed an integrated circuit (IC, i.e. a microelectronic chip, with total silicon area of <;0.25<;cm2, less than 5 mm × 5 mm, and power consumption of 28 mW), which, with a minimal additional infrastructure, can perform microchip electrophoresis with LIF detection. The present work enables extremely compact and inexpensive portable systems consisting of one or more complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) chips and several other low-cost components. There are, to the authors knowledge, no other reports of a CMOS-based LIF capillary electrophoresis instrument (i.e. high voltage generation, switching, control and interface circuit combined with LIF detection). This instrument is powered and controlled using a universal serial bus (USB) interface to a laptop computer. The authors demonstrate this IC in various configurations and can readily analyse the DNA produced by a standard medical diagnostic protocol (end-labelled polymerase chain reaction (PCR) product) with a limit of detection of 1 ng/ l ( 1 ng of total DNA). The authors believe that this approach may ultimately enable lab-on-a-chip-based electrophoretic instruments that cost on the order of several dollars.