The Ice Chamber for Astrophysics–Astrochemistry (ICA): A new experimental facility for ion impact studies of astrophysical ice analogs

Péter Herczku, Duncan V. Mifsud, Sergio Ioppolo, Zoltán Juhász, Zuzana Kaňuchová, Sándor T. S. Kovács, Alejandra Traspas Muiña, Perry A. Hailey, István Rajta, István Vajda, Nigel J. Mason, Robert W. McCullough, Béla Paripás, Béla Sulik

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The Ice Chamber for Astrophysics–Astrochemistry (ICA) is a new laboratory end station located at the Institute for Nuclear Research (Atomki) in Debrecen, Hungary. The ICA has been specifically designed for the study of the physico-chemical properties of astrophysical ice analogs and their chemical evolution when subjected to ionizing radiation and thermal processing. The ICA is an ultra-high-vacuum compatible chamber containing a series of IR-transparent substrates mounted on a copper holder connected to a closed-cycle cryostat capable of being cooled down to 20 K, itself mounted on a 360° rotation stage and a z-linear manipulator. Ices are deposited onto the substrates via background deposition of dosed gases. The ice structure and chemical composition are monitored by means of FTIR absorbance spectroscopy in transmission mode, although the use of reflectance mode is possible by using metallic substrates. Pre-prepared ices may be processed in a variety of ways. A 2 MV Tandetron accelerator is capable of delivering a wide variety of high-energy ions into the ICA, which simulates ice processing by cosmic rays, solar wind, or magnetospheric ions. The ICA is also equipped with an electron gun that may be used for electron impact radiolysis of ices. Thermal processing of both deposited and processed ices may be monitored by means of both FTIR spectroscopy and quadrupole mass spectrometry. In this paper, we provide a detailed description of the ICA setup as well as an overview of the preliminary results obtained and future plans.
Original languageEnglish
Article number084501
Number of pages12
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Publication statusPublished - 09 Aug 2021


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