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Interstellar clouds are the locations of chemistry in space. Molecules formed in this chemistry are useful tracers of the gas and the physical conditions – such as density and temperature – within it. In this chapter we describe the complex chemical networks that produce these molecules in interstellar space. These molecules are vulnerable to destruction by starlight, particularly the ultraviolet radiation from hotter stars. The extinction provided by dust grains is strongest in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. Therefore, dust grains can shield molecules from destruction by starlight and allow a complex chemistry to develop in interstellar clouds.

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