30/11/2012 05:09 GMT | Updated 29/01/2013 05:12 GMT

DNA Photographed For The First Time (PICTURES)

Scientists have taken the first direct photograph of a strand of DNA.

The famous 'double-helix' structure of DNA has become one of the most recognisable images in science since its discovery by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953.

Back then, scientists had to use X-ray crystallography - a form of imaging where atoms are fired at DNA strands, and patterns of dots are converted into images with the help of complex maths - to uncover the structure.

But now the first-ever true photograph of DNA has been taken with an electron microsope, showing the miniscule structure directly.

Above: DNA, photographed

Enzo di Fabrizio from the University of Genoa, Italy took the photo by pulling a strand of DNA and propping it up between two silicon pillars.

To create the image itself, he made small holes in the base of the nanopillar bed and shone electrons at it, revealing the DNA.

Di Fabrizio says that with better imaging, it may even be possible to photograph DNA at the level of single molecules.

His paper, Direct Imaging of DNA Fibers: The Visage of Double Helix, is available to read online.