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Nanowires of Unlimited Length

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the eat-your-heart-out-spiderman dept.

Science 111

StCredZero writes with word of a research team from the University of Illinois who have developed a way to manufacture nanowires of any length from various materials. Not, unfortunately, carbon nanotubes, or we would be looking for news on space elevators soon. The process is analogous to drawing with a fountain pen — as liquid is drawn from a reservoir, a solvent (water or an organic) evaporates and the solute precipitates onto a substrate. The researchers have demonstrated a way to spin and wind a nanowire onto a spool; they have produced a coil of microfiber 850 nm in diameter and 40 cm long. Here's the abstract from the journal Advanced Materials.

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Hee hee hee (5, Funny)

Warui Kami (104676) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376692)

From TFA (The Fine Abstract):

Abstract
No abstract.

Re:Hee hee hee (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377078)

Very concise. I like it

Re:Hee hee hee (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377112)

"abstract (b-strkt', b'strkt')
adj.
1. Considered apart from concrete existence."

Sounds about right to me

Re:Hee hee hee (2, Funny)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377840)

That is because it is written in nano-ink. Get out your magnifier glass.

Re:Hee hee hee (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22378238)

If the nanowires become too long, they would become microwires, milliwires, wires, kilowires, megawires, gigawires and so on...

It doesn't have to be very long (1)

DMCBOSTON (714393) | more than 6 years ago | (#22381114)

It doesn't have to be very long to be woven into long ropes. Fibers are short, then woven. So it would seem that something 40 cm long could just do the trick.

You know what they say (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22376706)

It's not the length of the wire, it's how you use it.

Re:You know what they say (5, Funny)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377128)

Is it... is it connected yet?

Re:You know what they say (1)

slawo (1210850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377300)

We should soon see the kind of nano wire we had in Syndicate Wars [wikipedia.org] replace the barbed wires... much more effective.

Be sure military will find a use for veeeery thin wire... even if it's just candy at the moment, it sure they will make it with something much more consistent in the future.

Interesting (2, Insightful)

Idiot with a gun (1081749) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376710)

But they only made the wires out of sugar, and various other water soluble compounds. While they said they could make wires out of ingredients that dissolve in volatile organic compounds, when will they be able to make them out of metal?

Best part of the article (5, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376722)

IMHO, is this:

To further demonstrate the versatility of the drawing process, for which the U. of I. has applied for a patent, the researchers drew nanofibers out of sugar, out of potassium hydroxide (a major industrial chemical) and out of densely packed quantum dots.

Nanowires made of quantum dots? Sounds like an outstanding way to make a super efficient solar panel. [wikipedia.org]

You could lay out nano structures of quantum dots with whatever spacing and precision you'd like. And unlike all the other advances we usually see here on /. this one is already working.

Re:Best part of the article (5, Funny)

Kelerain (577551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376820)

the researchers drew nanofibers out of sugar

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an unparalleled breakthrough in cotton candy technology.

Re:Best part of the article (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376908)

the researchers drew nanofibers out of sugar

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an unparalleled breakthrough in cotton candy technology.
Will it keep it from sticking to my fingers, which I then lick, which leads to stickier fingers, which I lick again?

Re:Best part of the article (3, Funny)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377058)


No - it will just slice your tongue to pieces. "Nano-Cotton Candy - the Sharpest Flavour Ever!" ;)

Re:Best part of the article (1)

nilbud (1155087) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377746)

Its still just sugar. Heston will find a use for it.

Re:Best part of the article (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378156)

Stay away from nano cotton candy. Did you see what happened when Neo touched the mirror in The Matrix!?

Nuff said.

Re:Best part of the article (2, Funny)

Devar (312672) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378104)

Am I the only one that read that comment and heard Professor Frink saying it?

Now that you mention it... (1)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379496)

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an unparalleled breakthrough in cotton candy technology... bhay-gn-flay-vn.


FTFY. :)

Re:Best part of the article (5, Interesting)

googlebear (625615) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377072)

Yeah the nano wires of quantum dots sounds very interesting. In my introduction to Nanotech course at school I did a presentation on qunatum dot cellular automata. Essentially they design logic circuits out of precisely laid out circuits of quantum dots. The technology is proof of concept and was awaiting improvements in production technologies . Maybe this will indeed be the key to unlocking 10-20ghz processors (They don't have the same leaky qualities when as densely packed as chips built with MOSFETT. They use electron interactions as a means of propagating signals as opposed to actual current flow) .. Anyhow here is a link to the university doing the research on QCA's for those of you interested... HERE [nd.edu] -Ian Roessle

Re:Best part of the article (1)

networkconsultant (1224452) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378618)

Yes but the improbability of the chips ever being correct about a simple math instruction may cause programmers to take on various Grand Unified Theroy stances that aren't really needed for simple multiplication, and how do you make quantum dot's impervious to static? or solar wind for that matter?

Good (1)

multipass666 (1213904) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376724)

Now I can finally string one across a lane of traffic. Preferably at 4WD hight. I've been waiting a long time for shigawire.

Re:Good (1)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376822)

They're made out of sugar or potassium hydroxide, so good luck with that.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22377502)

>

Great. So much about the focus on the advancement of science. NEw-age extortionism. " Pay, I or won't tell you!" Bastards.

Spiderman sitings ahoy (4, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376758)

In other news a goofy red-blue character with the habit of spinning threads of various lengths has been seen roaming the streets of New York.

On a more serious note this is what many silk spinners do. They excrete silk as liquid and it becomes a wire or a sheet a few ms later. Some silk spinners manage threads which are in micrometers in diameter as well.

Re:Spiderman sitings ahoy (1)

gotzero (1177159) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376794)

Maybe we can start feeding them metal or carbon pellets?

It will be neat to see the future of this. Hopefully they can scale everything for more production, and get some alternate materials in there.

Re:Spiderman sitings ahoy (2, Interesting)

stereoroid (234317) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376944)

Fibres in the m range are nothing new - that's where optical fibre lives, with the long-range fibres below 10 m. This story is about fibres in the nanometre range, a thousandth the diameter of optical fibre.

I wonder how strong the fibre is, and how long it will be before it gets turned in to a weapon? Attach it to a stick, hang a weight on the other end, and whoops! there goes my head, rolling down the stairs.

Re:Spiderman sitings ahoy (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380096)

that's where optical fibre lives, with the long-range fibres below 10 m

I should certainly hope they don't need fibers thicker than 10 meters... Where do you get such a thick fiber anyway? That's like, house-sized.

Re:Spiderman sitings ahoy (4, Interesting)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377138)

This could mean that artificial silk is around the corner. And I don't mean some silk-like synthetic but instead something with the exact properties of real silk but a much lower price. If they do manage to make silk that way I predict that in a few years silk will be the next big fad. Of course this doesn't work like a real silk gland at all, but maybe something workable can be achieved.

Outside of the fashion world (where things actually matter), this might also mean a big step towards artificial spider silk, which a lot of people are very interested in - spider silk is very tough and is would be useful wherever you need a very light tough fabric, especially when you want something that is biodegradable. Currently we can produce the protein, but we can't spin it. Perhaps this technology might enable us to create something reasonably similar to real spider silk.

Re:Spiderman sitings ahoy (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377588)

W00T PANTS!! Where's my Spiderman webslinger?!!

Artificial Silk (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378918)

Bah! You young whippersnappers!

I'd rather get my silk the old-fashioned way, by milking goats:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/889951.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Artificial Silk (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379340)

That's what I meant with "we can produce the protein". The problem with goat silk is that it's just the protein in raw form. Spiders do some very specific things with their silk protein in order to form strands of it. The company that came up with goat silk tried to replicate it but failed - they finally abandoned the effort. However, if this new technology also worked for spider silk protein, we could get close to the real deal. It'd probably still not match what real spiders produce, but it's better than a bottle full of a gel that just happens to be made up of the same proteins as spider silk.

Re:Spiderman sitings ahoy (2, Funny)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378048)

"This is my drawer full of various lengths of wire... that's my interstellar spaceship.... here, let me show you some wire..."

good (4, Funny)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376760)

Now we can finally start closing the so called "garotte gap" with the Russians.

MOD THIS DOWN!!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22376872)

can we please start modding down custom-font assholes like him? just out of spite? please?

Re:MOD THIS DOWN!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377088)

It's not a custom font.  It's one of the choices you have under posting.

As if they would allow custom fonts, here....

Re:good (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22377174)

oo

Re:good (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22383214)

Can we do live recordings of Woody Guthrie concerts with these nano-wires?

Mircro (0, Offtopic)

i_liek_turtles (1110703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376790)

I fro won, velcum our knew mircro ovuhlawds.

Re:Mircro (-1, Offtopic)

genericpoweruser (1223032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377118)

I welcome spellcheckers.

Re:Mircro (1)

i_liek_turtles (1110703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377160)

One of the tags previously on there was "mircro."

wait... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22376796)

doesn't it have to be around or under 100nm to be considered nano?

Re:wait... (4, Funny)

Garridan (597129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376926)

Apparently, a thing needs only be measured in nanometers to be considered "nano". My car is also nano-scale, being a scant 1524000000 nanometers tall!

Re:wait... (2, Insightful)

slaingod (1076625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377334)

I hear you, but in this case, I think because it lies within the range of nanometers ( ie. less than 1 micrometer) that it is an accurate and valid usage.

Re:wait... (3, Funny)

Garridan (597129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377472)

Do you doubt that I could measure my car to within a range of +/- 1 micrometer [wikipedia.org] ? No sweat. My micrometer is about 3.5 inches long, and my car is 5' tall, plus or minus an inch. That puts it at a height of 17.15 +/- 0.28 micrometers. No wonder shuttles keep crashing... you Americans know nothing about the metric system!

Re:wait... (2, Interesting)

slaingod (1076625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378178)

Um, that wasn't the point. The point is that they are 850nm thick which is less than a micrometer. In no way is any dimension (of the usual 3 :) of your car less than 1 micrometer.

Re:wait... (1)

slaingod (1076625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378188)

And I don't doubt there are a lot of things you can measure that are 3.5 inches :) JK!!!

Re:wait... (2, Funny)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378148)

Apparently, a thing needs only be measured in nanometers to be considered "nano".

Or, rather small and made by Apple.

Re:wait... (3, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377120)

doesn't it have to be around or under 100nm to be considered nano?

AFAIK, the most common definition is under 1um, so this just qualifies.

Re:wait... (1)

audunb (1237184) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378124)

I'm a nanotech-student, and the definition we're always using is below 100nm.
I haven't read the article, I just skimmed through parts of it, but it seems like they are naming the >250nm-fibers microfibers and the smaller ones nanofibers.

Re:wait... (1)

Rostin (691447) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378240)

I think the gp is right.. under 100 nm is still the most common standard. But, IIRC, a few months ago a seminar speaker in my department casually remarked that many people in the micro- and nanofluidics community were applying the nano label to structures under a micron.

Re:wait... (1)

silicone_chemist (975884) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378146)

Yes, TFA refers to 25 and 100 nm structures as nano and the 850 nm structure as micro. "...nanofibers approximately 25 nanometers in diameter..." "...nanofibers approximately 100 nanometers in diameter..." "...microfiber was approximately 850 nanometers in diameter..."

Re:wait... (1)

DinZy (513280) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378996)

I wouldn't call them nanowires. 0.85 um is hardly nano. But I suppose I am biased because I work with actual nanowires. This is just a case of the U of I trying to patent something and turn a profit from it. It is a disturbing trend that is happening in our universities. Universities create these Technology transfer divisions, spend millions on staff, etc, charge us poor research groups higher overhead to pay for it, and then try to turn a profit by patenting our results. It is not profitable for the university and it makes research even harder to do because it steals a good percentage off the tops of our rapidly dwindling, funds.

Re:wait... (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22382828)

Due to the fact that actual 'grey goo'-style nanotechnology is many decades away, people have latched on to the nanotech buzzword by describing anything whose *components* are nano-scale as nanotechnology. For example if you put really small particles in paint and that makes it have interesting properties, that makes it 'nanotechnology'. In this case the nanotubes themselves are nano-sized.

It is indeed silly, but otherwise we wouldn't have much that we could really call nano-technology.

Shigawire!! (-1, Redundant)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376816)

Frank Herbert was prescient....

Re:Shigawire!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22376846)

hm... nano-wire made from sugar? Cotton candy isn't known for its extreme strength.

Re:Shigawire!! (3, Funny)

Tancred (3904) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377206)

Frank Herbert was prescient....

Yeah. Must have been all the melange.

Anyone else remember the ornithopters dragging a big loop of shigawire in an assassination attempt? Probably around the Children of Dune / God Emperor time period.

Re:Shigawire!! (2, Insightful)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377984)

[geekhat]
actually, I believe it was Heretics of Dune, when Sheeana was on the rooftop of the Priesthood of Rakis's building, and was saved by a Bene Gesserit who I *believe* wound up cut up by the shigawire.. but it's been a little bit since I've read the series, it might've been someone in the Priesthood who got cut up
[/geekhat]

Been watching too much Futurama (4, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376824)

And over there is my intergalactic spaceship. And here's where I keep assorted lengths of wire.

My height (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22376838)

Apparently I am of unlimited height... times 4.

PENIS PENIS HAHAHAHAHAHA PENIS (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22376842)

i have a penis of unlimited length. i just thought you all should know this.

Re:PENIS PENIS HAHAHAHAHAHA PENIS (1)

Vexor (947598) | more than 6 years ago | (#22382042)

Brings a whole new meaning to karma whoring...

the fibre so thin that ... (2, Funny)

zen-theorist (930637) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376904)

there's nothing to see here. move along.

I've created an infinite length nanowire (3, Funny)

doomy (7461) | more than 6 years ago | (#22376962)

It looks like this "O"

Re:I've created an infinite length nanowire (1, Funny)

Loibisch (964797) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377002)

Since it's a nanowire wouldn't it look more like "o" or even "."? :)

Re:I've created an infinite length nanowire (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377008)

It looks like this "O"
*golfclaps*

Re:I've created an infinite length nanowire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22378518)

It looks like this "O"
You know, for kids!

unlimited? (3, Funny)

Drantin (569921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377054)

How long will it take to manufacture a nanowire of infinite length?

Re:unlimited? (2, Funny)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377234)

Better question: How long will it blend?

Re:unlimited? (1)

dohzer (867770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377396)

Nothing is unlimited except for unlimity itself.
Or something like that.

Re:unlimited? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379468)

Actually it is called Unlimitanium, a close cousin to Unobtainium

Both theorized to exist in their natural form as key elements that make up the legendary Money Tree.

Re:unlimited? (2, Informative)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378498)

Forever.

Re:unlimited? (1)

DTemp (1086779) | more than 6 years ago | (#22382280)

Touché fine sir!

Unlimited is not infinite (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22383596)

There is a method for making unlimited ingots of steel [wikipedia.org] . This only means that an unbroken block of steel will keep coming out of the machine as long as you keep pouring molten steel in the other end.


If you can do the same thing with some ultra-strong material, such as spider silk, for instance, this would mean an advancement in materials technology comparable to the invention of steel casting processes.

I dont think that word means what you think it mea (5, Funny)

dissy (172727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377056)

Nanowires of Unlimited Length
So would that be comcast unlimited length, timewarner unlimited length, or AT&T unlimited length?

And could you convert that to a unit of cars or library of congresses?

Re:I dont think that word means what you think it (1)

Non-Huffable Kitten (1142561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379242)

I know you are joking, but FWIW, they are speaking of potential infinity, not actual infinity :)

Re:I dont think that word means what you think it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22380490)

That's over 2,500 unlimited movies, or 50,000 unlimited mp3s.

Both of which will get you throttled, and reported to the authorities.

Unfortunately... (5, Funny)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380878)

It would take three or four Hiroshimas worth of power to spin a single Library of Congress length of nanowire, but amazingly it would only weigh one Escalade despite being able to support five Empire State Buildings. Unfortunately, it would also cost one Medicaid budget per Los Angeles to Sydney length of cable the width of a human hair.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22383442)

Thank you!

Now if only the article summary made as much sense ;}

Damn! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377066)

The moment I read the first sentence, the subject of the second sentence popped into my mind. Then I read it.

Heavy sigh.

But it's still progress.

Possibly a first step to carbon nanotubes (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377094)

Considering that carbon nanotubes are graphite-like structures first found in the soot of arc discharges, it seems reasonable that an organic nanofiber of the right composition might decompose into a nanotube if strongly heated under the right conditions (almost certainly, for a start, anaerobic ones).

And over there is my intergalactic spaceship... (0, Redundant)

dmitriy88 (1096195) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377096)

...and here is where I keep assorted lengths of wire!

nano nano (4, Funny)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377252)

There's only one image I see when I read the word 'nano'. My brain always doubles it up into 'nano nano'.

Am I alone?

Please say I am. I wouldn't wish it on anyone...

Re:nano nano (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22377434)

Do you mean this? [wikipedia.org]

Re:nano nano (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377616)

I thought he was referring to Mork and Mindy [wikipedia.org]

Re:nano nano (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377778)

You, sir, are correct.

Re:nano nano (1)

aug24 (38229) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377654)

Well, you were alone, you bastard...

Re:nano nano (1)

eXFeLoN (954179) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378346)

One word for your brother... Shazbot!

Princess Bride (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22377738)

They're NULs (nanowires of unlimited length)...
Either that, or they've gone to /dev/NUL
There's too many jokes here...

Unlimited?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22378050)

Arbitrary length maybe.. unlimited? Not.

CNTs != space elevator (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22378340)

Not, unfortunately, carbon nanotubes, or we would be looking for news on space elevators soon.

Carbon nanotubes have a unique structure that gives them amazing strength, conductivity and resilience. These properties, however, only exist at the nanoscale and have never been scaled up. (Ballistic conduction, for instance, usually only occurs for ~100 um.) So the idea that a space elevator will be constructed from CNTs is something of a Popular Science induced myth.

Glavin.

Space Elevators Not Needed for Cheap Launch (4, Interesting)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380000)

Space Elevators going up to geosynchronous orbit aren't needed, so carbon nanotubes aren't needed either. We could build a Space Pier [wisegeek.com] - which is a series of towers 100km tall with an accelerator on the top - out of pressurized cylindrical columns made out of boron. (The linked article talks about diamondoid materials, but other researchers have looked into more conventional materials which would allow us to build towers 100km high.) Also, Robert Zubrin has looked into a Hypersonic Skyhook [harvard.edu] which doesn't extend all the way to the ground or out to geosynch. However, it's a lot easier to design and build a SSTO or TSTO craft that can acheive 100km altitude and 4 or 5 km/s delta-v, as opposed to 8.5 km/s needed for low earth orbit. It is rumored that Burt Rutan's White Knight Two [wikipedia.org] is designed to also launch a higher performance rocket plane that could acheive this. (In addition to the Space Ship Two space tourism craft.)

Webshooters? (1)

Avitor (640676) | more than 6 years ago | (#22378564)

"The process is like drawing with a fountain pen - the ink comes out and quickly dries or 'solidifies,' " said Min-Feng Yu, a professor of mechanical science and engineering, and an affiliate of the Beckman Institute. "But, unlike drawing with a fountain pen, we can draw objects in three dimensions."
Didn't a teenage New Yorker figure this out in the '60s?

NoULs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22378836)

I don't think they exist.

Re:NoULs? (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22381412)

Glad to see I'm not the only one who immediately thought of that. Never seen the "Try to be more original" error on slashdot before!

Nano (1)

stevensinger (1149179) | more than 6 years ago | (#22379082)

So what can we really do with it? Like what is the real world app?

nanowire of unlimited length (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22380044)

Is that kind of like a potion of unlimited healing? And more importantly, how many mages can you strangle with a single, unlimitedly long wire?

So how long is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22381606)

Twice the distance from the middle of an unlimited sized thread to one of its ends? But how do you find the middle of an unlimited sized thread?

Westley says ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22384386)

It is best to use Nanowires of Unlimited Length against the Rodents of Unusual Size.
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