We give a detailed account of the theoretical analysis and the experimental results of an X-ray-diffraction experiment on quantum-state selected and strongly laser-aligned gas-phase ensembles of the prototypical large asymmetric rotor molecule 2,5-diiodobenzonitrile, performed at the Linac Coherent Light Source [Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 083002 (2014)]. This experiment is the first step toward coherent diffractive imaging of structures and structural dynamics of isolated molecules at atomic resolution, i.e., picometers and femtoseconds, using X-ray free-electron lasers.
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