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Debye's scattering equation (DSE) has spanned a century of scientific development, from the dawn of quantum mechanics and the investigation of the structure of atoms and molecules to the era of nanotechnology, paving the way to total scattering methods. The formulation offers the most accurate representation of the intensity scattered by randomly oriented atomic aggregates, constructed by superimposing the signal from each atomic distance in the molecule. The present paper reviews some of the milestone applications, from the interpretation of the intensity curves from gases and vapours, to aggregates of increasing size and more extended order. Important developments, aimed at mitigating the prohibitive computational complexity of the DSE, and state-of-the-art methods for the characterization of static and dynamic displacements are also discussed.

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