Cryst. Rev. (2010), 16(3), 197-230. [ doi:10.1080/08893110903483246 ]
X-ray single crystal structure analysis has become a gold standard for the determination of molecular geometry. The reliability of the technique is a triumph for science and technology working together. The uniqueness of well-crystalline material intrigued early natural philosophers, and their examinations, followed by the discovery of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals, led to the powerful technology that we now enjoy. For about three quarters of a century molecular structure determination has been a driving force for crystallographic research, but now that the science has matured into a technology, interest is returning in trying to understand the nature of crystals themselves.