Although several research groups have studied the formation of H2 on interstellar dust grains using surface science techniques, few have explored the formation of more complex molecules. A small number of these reactions produce molecules that remain on the surface of interstellar dust grains and, over time, lead to the formation of icy mantles. The most abundant of these species within the ice is H2O and is of particular interest as the observed molecular abundance cannot be accounted for using gas-phase chemistry alone. This article provides a brief introduction to the astronomical implications and motivations behind this research and the requirement for a new dual atomic beam ultrahigh vacuum apparatus system. Further details of the apparatus design, characterisation and calibration of the system are provided along with preliminary data from atomic O and O2 beam dosing on bare silica substrate and subsequent temperature programmed desorption measurements. The results obtained in this ongoing research may enable more chemically-accurate surface formation mechanisms to be deduced for this and other species before simulating the kinetic data under interstellar conditions.
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