Phase identification by X-ray diffraction techniques in a complex mixture would be greatly simplified if the component phases could be physically separated. As opposed to current computer search-match algorithms for phase identification, which presuppose a single diffraction scan on a carefully prepared sample, we propose multi-scan data-taking on a not-so-carefully prepared sample so as to exploit certain aberrations in the diffracted intensities. The result can effectively be a physical separation by diffraction. Examples include exploitation of samples having a preferentially oriented component as well as samples with components having differing crystallite sizes. The techniques can involve diffractometer as well as film techniques.