First Photo of DNA Helix Taken: For the first time, scientists have imaged DNA's iconic spiraling helix. The photo was taken by Enzo di Fabrizio from the University of Genoa, Italy, using an electron microscope. Until now, scientists only knew that DNA was a helix shape because of their knowledge of molecular theory and an imaging technique called X-ray crystallography, which converts patterns of dots into an image. But now they can see the molecule up close and in person.

Di Fabrizio made the image by pulling a strand of DNA between two nanoscopic silicon pillars. An electron microscope bounces electrons off of objects and the energy created is used to make an image, so di Fabrizio needed a way to shine the electrons onto the DNA. To do it, he drilled tiny holes in the base of the nanopillar bed and shone beams of electrons through it. He published the image in the journal Nano Letters.


Credit: Enzo di Fabrizio