What's fun to see is how much he concept of trace evidence has captured the public imagination. Actually, that has always been the case. There was a reason that dashing detective was often pictured with a magnifying glass. That character was looking for evidence that couldn't be seen with the naked eye and the "detective with magnifying glass" icon has been common for a couple of centuries now in detective fiction.
Of course, the notion of using trace evidence to catch criminals has made for some great television. Both police procedure shows and science fiction programs use the concept frequently.