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In darker regions of interstellar clouds, dust grains accumulate layers of simple ices on their surfaces. These ices are composed mainly of water, but also contain carbon monoxide and dioxide, simple hydrides such as methane and ammonia, and a few other species. Many of these icy species are also formed in simple chemical reactions on the surfaces of dust grains and are retained there until the ices are removed. These ice layers are chemically simple, but are the raw material for forming relatively complex molecular species, especially in star-forming regions. The formation of complex species from the simple ice species can be tested in appropriate laboratory experiments and is found to be efficient. It seems likely that most of the more complex species identified in interstellar clouds can be formed in a chemistry based on the ices formed in dark clouds.

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