Biotechnology is an area of great innovations that promises to have deep impact on everyday life thanks to profound changes in biology, medicine, and health care. This article will span from the description of the biochemical principles of molecular biology to the definition of the physics that supports the technology and to the devices and algorithms necessary to observe molecular events in a controlled, portable, and highly parallel manner. Throughout this discussion, constant attention will be given to the ultimate goals and applications of these innovations as well as to the related issues