This chapter provides a historical introduction to X-ray dynamical diffraction. It starts with an account of Ewald's thesis on the dispersion of light and of the famous experiment of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals by M. Laue, W. Friedrich, and P. Knipping. The successive steps in the development of the theory of X-ray diffraction are then summarized: Laue's and Darwin's geometrical theories; Darwin's, Ewald's, and Laue's dynamical theories; early experimental proofs, the notion of extinction and the mosaic crystal model, observation in the fifties and sixties of the fundamental properties of the X-ray wavefields in crystals (anomalous absorption and the Borrmann effect, double refraction, Pendellösung, bent trajectories in deformed crystals), extension of the dynamical theory to the case of deformed crystals, modern applications for the characterization of crystal defects and X-ray optics for synchrotron radiation.
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