The basic principle of a microarray or biochip is that DNA or protein molecules are fixed in an ordered fashion i.e. a defined sequence onto a solid support. For analyzing genes or genomes for example, complex samples are isolated from cells or tissues of interest, labeled and investigated using such a biochip.
Biochips enable the researcher to look at thousands of genes or proteins in parallel in a single experiment. The individual DNA or protein probes act as sensors to gain information about transcription, expression or mutations of the respective gene.