Do we really have technology with the resolution to distinguish between layers of single atoms of materials?

My textbook, Solid-State Physics, Fluidics, and Analytical Techniques in Micro- and Nanotechnology, by Madou, says the following:

X-ray analysis reveals the symmetries of crystals (lattice type), distances between atomic planes (lattice parameter), the positions of atoms in crystals, the types of atoms from the intensities of diffracted x-rays, and the degree of crystallinity (ordering).

I found this quite fascinating. Do we really have technology with the resolution to distinguish between layers of single atoms of materials? In other words, we can tell when one layer of single atoms ends and the next layer of single atoms begins, and analyse them as such?

• Yes, it does exist, but the meaning of the quotation was not that. – Greg Jan 18 at 4:03
• @Greg oh? My apologies. Can you please explain what the author meant? – The Pointer Jan 18 at 4:04
• If I wanted to nitpick, I would say that this short text piece already contains two errors. Is the rest of the book written as sloppily? ;) – Karl Jan 18 at 14:55
• Well, you cannot identify the elementar composition of a sample by xray diffraction. That is utterly ridiculous. XPS is a spectroscopic technique, hence the "S", not diffraction. And strictly speaking, XRD works on the distribution of electron density in your sample, not on "atoms". But that is indeed nitpicking. ;) – Karl Jan 18 at 15:11
• @Karl, the point about electron density is more significant than just nitpicking imo; as I understand it, this is exactly why XRD can not identify exactly what atom it is looking at. Although I am happy to be corrected or nitpicked at if I am wrong. :) – orthocresol Jan 18 at 20:45

To the OP: A good way to studying is to rely on multiple references of the subject. Do not take everything literally. The authors are human beings after all with limited knowledge and of course they are not the experts of $$every$$ topic covered in the textbook. When I was a student, I used to spend a lot of time trying to decipher what the author was saying in a particular sentence. With maturity you learn that the better way (read: more scholarly way) is to look at the same topic in another book and see what the other author is saying.