A read receipt can be sent back when the recipient has opened (i.e. looked at) an email. But it is up to the recipient as to whether they have read receipts enabled. Most people do not (as they consider it an intrusion in to their privacy).
There is no absolute way of determining whether an email has been received (regardless of whether it has been read or not). Normally the "email system" will notify if an email cannot be delivered, but this is not guaranteed.
Having said all that, some marketing / spamming organisations use a somewhat underhand mechanism to determine if an email has been opened. They do this by linking images (that have to be downloaded from the web when the email is viewed) in to an email. They use bespoke codes in the image links (bespoke in that the codes are different for each recipient) which thereby enable them to determine when the email has been viewed. This is used by spammers to try and detect whether email addresses are active (and so target for further spamming).