• grazing-incidence diffraction;
  • Langmuir films

The development of third-generation synchrotron sources has inspired qualitative and quantitative breakthroughs in structural studies of monomolecular organic layers. To study such systems formed at the gas–liquid interface, grazing-incidence diffraction (GID) has proved to be the most powerful technique. Until quite recently, in most cases, GID was performed via a scanning approach with use of a collimating system in front of the detector to eliminate the effect of parallax and to achieve the required angular resolution. Owing to the long counting time required, this kind of measurement often introduces significant radiation damage to a sample and considerably restricts time-resolved studies, preventing the pursuit of emerging scientific areas such as the investigation of fast kinetic structural changes in two-dimensional systems. This problem can apparently become a real obstacle for the application of the scanning GID technique at fourth-generation synchrotron sources because of the extremely high X-ray fluxes involved. This article discusses the possibility of significantly reducing the measuring time and avoiding the beam parallax problem by using a high-brilliance submillimetre beam and a large-area two-dimensional detector (e.g. PILATUS) in a single-shot GID measurement on large-area sample surfaces. Both theoretical considerations of the problem and experimental GID results from monomolecular layers of behenic acid at the gas–water interface are presented, with a detailed description of the experimental conditions. The possibility of a diffraction imaging study of the texture of Langmuir monomolecular layers is demonstrated.