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The special features of diffraction from particles in the nanometer size range are discussed and the problem of structure determination is considered. A direct method of structure analysis, known as Debye Function Analysis, is presented and evaluated. The method is capable of obtaining information about both the size and structure of domains in a sample, and can identify noncrystalline structures. Numerical simulations of observations are used to investigate the limitations of the technique, and also provide a general method for quantifying uncertainties in parameters estimated by Debye Function Analysis. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.