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Tech Beat - May 15, 2012

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Editor: Michael Baum
Date created: May 15, 2012
Date Modified: May 15, 2012 
Contact: inquiries@nist.gov

Call for Proposals to Create Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute

The federal government issued on May 9, 2012, a solicitation for proposals from teams led by non-profit organizations or universities to establish an Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which would serve as a pilot—or proof-of-concept prototype—for President Obama's proposed National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI).

Deposited layer by layer, metal powder can be used to create parts of different shapes and sizes. NIST research projects focus on characterizing the material properties of the powders used for additive manufacturing and the resulting products and improving the performance of additive manufacturing equipment and processes.
Credit: Young\NIST
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According to the Broad Agency Announcement* issued by the Department of Defense (DOD), the government anticipates awarding a total of $30 million over 30 months, with at least an equivalent cost-share contribution by the winning applicant. The pilot institute award and management will be a cross-agency effort, but will primarily be led by the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, executed through the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Partnering with the DOD are the Department of Commerce (DOC), the Department of Energy (DOE), NASA and the National Science Foundation. After the awardee is selected, DOC’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will provide an additional $5 million.

Additive manufacturing, sometimes called “3D printing,” is a group of new technologies that build up objects by adding materials, usually by laying down many thin layers. It is so called to distinguish it from traditional machining that creates objects by cutting material away. The solicitation seeks proposals, including technical and business plans, detailing steps to accelerate research, development, and demonstration in additive manufacturing and transition technology to manufacturing enterprises within the United States.

The goal of the pilot institute is to increase the successful transition of additive manufacturing technology through advanced manufacturing innovation create an adaptive workforce capable of meeting industry needs, further increasing domestic competitiveness; and meet DOD, DOE and other participating civilian agency requirements.

The detailed solicitation is at number BAA-12-17-PKM at FedBizOps.gov. See https://www.fbo.gov/?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=2bbada5cae4ab97438dc3f57fed050d0. The deadline for proposals is 3:00 pm, June 14, 2012, Eastern time.

* For more details, see the announcement “Government Seeks Proposals for Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute” at Manufacturing.gov: http://manufacturing.gov/amp/news-050912.html.

Media Contact: Mark Bello, mark.bello@nist.gov, (301) 975-3776

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NIST Contributes to Discovery of Novel Quantum Spin-Liquid

Gaithersburg, Md.—An international team of researchers including scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has found what may be the first known example of a "spin-orbital liquid," a substance in a never-before-seen quantum mechanical state.

diffraction data
Data taken with synchrotron diffraction indicates a short range, honeycomb-based nanostructure, which is the basis for the anomalous magnetism of Ba3CuSb2O9. NCNR neutron scattering data confirmed this structure and provided evidence for the resulting quantum spin liquid.
Credit: H. Sawa/Nagoya University
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The discovery, reported May 4, 2012, in the journal Science, has been sought for years by the physics community. Though the team does not posit immediate applications for the material, its properties relate to the same quantum effects that give rise to superconductivity, in which electricity flows through a material with no resistance, and superfluidity, in which a liquid flows across a surface with no friction.

The term "spin liquid" can be deceptive, as it describes a substance that in many ways fits our conventional understanding of a solid. Indeed, the material the team studied looks like a chunk of earth, but at the molecular level, it is made of copper, oxygen, barium and antimony atoms arranged in a crystalline lattice structure. In this particular structure the copper atoms exhibit unusual properties generally associated with liquids. Specifically, their magnetic orientation remains in a constant state of flux.

When materials with magnetic atoms—like iron—solidify, they generally do so in crystal structures whose atoms have an orderly arrangement of magnetic orientations. (When magnetic atoms interact "ferromagnetically" you get a refrigerator magnet.) Because magnetism stems from a quantum property in the atom's electrons called spin, another way of saying this is that the spins in these atoms' electrons all line up in a single direction. Ferromagnets feature an orderly, static arrangement of electron spins. 

In the material the team studied, the copper atoms are positioned within the lattice in such a way that their spins incessantly disturb each other, pushing each other around so they become unable to form an ordered configuration, instead creating what is aptly termed a "frustrated" magnet.

"You'd generally expect the copper spins and the corresponding electronic orbitals to become locked into a specific pattern upon cooling, but in this case that doesn't happen," says Collin Broholm, a physicist at both the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) and the Institute for Quantum Matter at Johns Hopkins University. "While the crystalline lattice is solid, the atomic spins continue to fluctuate. These spin fluctuations embody a fluid aspect of the material, so we end up with a quantum fluid within a solid."

The research team came from several institutions, including the University of Tokyo and Nagoya and Osaka University in Japan, and the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the United States. The material itself was created at the University of Tokyo's Institute for Solid State Physics. NIST's contribution to the discovery was in neutron scattering measurements, which revealed the fluid nature of the spin systems and also provided evidence the material has a different lattice structure than had previously been assigned to it – a structure that allows the copper atoms to affect one another as they do.

"Magnetic neutron scattering gave us a clear indication of some sort of quantum mischief in this compound," Broholm says. "The data show the spins don't develop static long-range order, but instead behave as a magnetic quantum fluid. Separate nuclear diffraction measurements also at the NCNR provided essential new information about the underlying hexagonal structure."

Broholm says the findings expand our understanding of what qualitatively different behaviors are possible in magnetic materials.

"Here we have a new type of magnetism, characterized by the lack of static orbital and spin order at low temperatures," he says. "Instead what we see is orbital and spin quantum fluctuations. This could provide new opportunities in materials science and engineering down the road, but for now we're excited to have encountered a qualitatively new state of magnetism where spin and orbital quantum fluctuations prevail."

The NIST findings were among the first to be made with the NCNR's multi-axis crystal spectrometer (MACS), which is supported in part by the National Science Foundation.

*S. Nakatsuji, K. Kuga, K. Kimura, R. Satake, K. Katayama, E. Nishibori, H. Sawa, R. Ishii, M. Hagiwara, F. Bridges, T. U. Ito, W. Higemoto, Y. Karaki, M. Halim, A.A. Nugroho, J.A. Rodriguez-Rivera, M.A. Green, and C. Broholm. Spin-orbital short-range order on a honeycomb-based lattice. Science, May 4, 2012: Vol. 336 no. 6081 pp. 559-563 DOI: 10.1126/science.1212154

Media Contact: Chad Boutin, boutin@nist.gov, 301-975-4261

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NIST Hydrogen Fuel Materials Test Facility Starts Delivering Data

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have published their first archival paper based on data from the institute’s new hydrogen test facility.* The paper examines the embrittling effect of pressurized hydrogen gas on three different types of pipeline steel, an important factor for the design of future hydrogen transportation and delivery systems.

cleavage failure
Scanning electron microscope images of a test section of X100 alloy pipeline steel shows the effects of a hydrogen-induced crack at the surface (top) and ductile (stretching deformation) failure towards the center of the specimen (bottom). Images show an area roughly 21.5 micrometers across. Color added for clarity.
Credit: Nanninga/NIST
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The research team’s initial measurements largely confirmed prior work—though it also extends those measurements to a new steel alloy. More importantly, they say, the work lays the foundation for their primary project, determining the largely unexamined effect of how hydrogen gas combined with fatigue reduces the service life of pipelines.

Under certain conditions, the effects of hydrogen on steel alloys are fairly well known. It can attack minute surface cracks in the alloy and eventually make it more brittle. High-pressure natural gas or petroleum pipelines are subject to attack by small amounts of hydrogen, but the effect is usually negligible and the oil and gas industry deals with this. But what about pressurized hydrogen gas in similar pipes—the sort you’d need in a transportation and distribution system for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles or home energy units? The new NIST facility, the largest in the United States, is designed to answer questions like that.**

The current results, according to NIST materials research engineer Andrew Slifka, demonstrated “classic embrittlement phenomenon—as the strength of steel goes up, the influence of embrittlement also goes up.” The NIST tests were new in that they showed the effect with pressurized gas and extended the data to include X100, a modern high-strength steel alloy not yet used in the United States. The experiments tested tensile strength, essentially pulling on test specimens past the “yield” point, the strain under which the metal stops snapping back like a spring and starts stretching like taffy. They showed that the embrittlement effect of the gas starts playing a role at the yield point, according to Slifka, and upon reaching the tensile strength of the material, surface cracks initiate and grow.

Slifka says the results are a useful baseline, but “no one runs pipelines at the yield point. The real question is will fatigue testing show the same results?” Fatigue, the action of repeatedly stressing and relaxing the metal, much better reflects the daily usage of gas pipelines, says Slifka, but there is relatively little data on its effect on hydrogen embrittlement, especially for a hydrogen gas line. The main focus of the NIST facility is gathering that data.

Studying fatigue effects is necessarily a time-consuming process, but now less so. The NIST team has developed a clever linkage system that allows them to chain several test specimens together and test them simultaneously while still gathering independent data for each one. With conventional test methods, a typical test run for a single sample can take two to three weeks. In the same amount of time, the new testing apparatus can generate an amount of data that used to take over six months to collect.

The NIST Hydrogen Test Facility is described at www.nist.gov/mml/materials_reliability/structural_materials/hydrogen-pipeline-safety.cfm.

* N.E. Nanninga, Y.S. Levy, E.S. Drexler, R.T. Condon, A.E. Stevenson, A.J. Slifka. Comparison of hydrogen embrittlement in three pipeline steels in high pressure gaseous hydrogen environments. Corrosion Science 59 (2012) 1–9. DOI:10.1016/j.corsci.2012.01.028. ** See “Future of Hydrogen Fuel Flows Through New NIST Test Facility” at http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/tech-beat/tb20100216.cfm#hydrogen.

Media Contact: Michael Baum, michael.baum@nist.gov, 301-975-2763

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Interagency Manufacturing Office Asks for Ideas on Design of Proposed Innovation Network

The Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (AMNPO) today* issued a formal "request for information" on a new public-private partnership proposed by President Obama: the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI).

Published in the Federal Register and posted on the AMNPO's "advanced manufacturing" website, the request for information (RFI) seeks ideas, recommendations and other public input on the design, governance and other aspects of the network, proposed to begin next fiscal year.

As envisioned by the Obama Administration, the NNMI will be the foundation of a U.S. innovation infrastructure of linked regional hubs of manufacturing excellence, called Institutes of Manufacturing Innovation (IMIs). President Obama's proposal calls for creating up to 15 competitively selected, cost-shared IMIs, each of which would concentrate on a particular area of technology development.

The federal portion of the investment would come from a proposed, one-time $1 billion congressionally authorized appropriation, which would be used to jumpstart the network. The NNMI is intended to address a crucial challenge to U.S. competitiveness and threat to economic growth: closing the gap between research and development (R&D) activities and the deployment of technological innovations in domestic production of goods.

The AMNPO is an interagency body hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and including the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce; the National Science Foundation; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and others. In this RFI, the office is seeking input on how each IMI and the NNMI as whole will integrate capabilities and facilities required to reduce the cost and risk of commercializing new technologies.

While the AMNPO welcomes all comments relevant to the design and impact of this new advanced manufacturing effort, the RFI lists four topics of specific interest:

  • Technologies with Broad Impact
  • Institute Structure and Governance
  • Strategies for Sustainable Institute Operations and
  • Education and Workforce Development.

In addition to the RFI, the AMNPO is soliciting input through regional workshops. The first of these events, Designing for Impact: Workshop on Building the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, was held April 25 at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.**

This information-gathering effort is proceeding in parallel with steps to establish a Pilot Institute for Manufacturing Innovation. This pilot institute will serve as a proof-of-concept for the NNMI. The pilot institute will draw on existing resources and authorities of the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce and, potentially, other civilian agencies.

The Federal Register notice with the detailed RFI is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/05/04/2012-10809/request-for-information-on-proposed-new-program-national-network-for-manufacturing-innovation-nnmi. Comments are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on October 25, 2012, and must be sent to nnmi_comments@nist.gov with the subject line "NNMI Comments." A public announcement of initial actions to create a pilot institute on additive manufacturing was posted April 13 in FedBizOpps. To read the announcement, go to: https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=6345b7b9254b6b5009236043c888f9e9&tab=core&tabmode=list&=Fed.

The AMNPO coordinates federal resources and programs related to manufacturing. It works to enhance technology transfer to and across U.S. manufacturing industries and to help companies overcome technical obstacles to scaling up new manufacturing technologies.

* Originally published on May 4, 2012.
** Edited on Feb. 14, 2013 to remove reference to an early discussion wiki that is no longer in service.

Media Contact: Mark Bello, mark.bello@nist.gov, 301-975-3776

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Comments Requested on Strategies to Mitigate Risk in the Federal ICT Supply Chain

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has extended until May 25, 2012, the comment period for the second draft of a publication intended to help federal departments and agencies better manage supply chain risks for federal information systems. The document provides a set of 10 practices intended to help federal departments and agencies manage the risk associated with the supply chain when purchasing and implementing information and communications technologies (ICT) products and services. This second draft, issued on March 23, 2012, reflects extensive revisions based on comments from the public on the first draft released in June 2010.

Federal information systems are increasingly at risk to both intentional and unintentional security risks introduced into their supply chain. “The supply chain risk is significant and growing,” according to co-author Jon Boyens, NIST senior advisor for information security. Improving the ICT supply chain is part of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative.

The growing sophistication of technology and increasing speed and scale of a complex, distributed global supply chain leave government agencies without a comprehensive way of managing or understanding the processes from design to disposal, and that increases the risk of exploitation through a variety of means including counterfeit materials, malicious software or untrustworthy products.

NIST Interagency Report (NISTIR) 7622, Notional Supply Chain Risk Management Practices for Federal Information Systems, is based on security practices and procedures published by, among others, NIST, the National Defense University and the National Defense Industrial Association and then expanded to include supply chain implications.

The new draft narrows the 21 prescriptive practices in the first draft down to 10 overarching practices that describe what is necessary for risk mitigation. ICT supply chain risk management is described in NISTIR 7622 as a multidisciplinary practice with a number of interconnected enterprise processes that, when performed correctly, will help departments and agencies manage the risk of using ICT products and services, Boyens explained. The publication calls for procurement organizations to establish a coordinated team approach to assess the ICT supply chain risk and to manage this risk by using technical and programmatic mitigation techniques.

The authors seek comments on the document, to be sent to scrm-nist@nist.gov by May 25. Specifically, they are looking for comments on prioritizing the supply chain risk management components and what information described in the document has already been collected in response to other legislation, regulations and standards. To help understand how the proposed process works, the authors would like reviewers to consider how the practices could be applied to recent and upcoming procurement activities and provide comments on the practicality, feasibility, cost, challenges and successes.

NISTIR 7622, Notional Supply Chain Risk Management Practices for Federal Information Systems may be downloaded at http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/drafts/nistir-7622/second-public-draft_nistir-7622.pdf.

Media Contact: Evelyn Brown, evelyn.brown@nist.gov, 301-975-5661

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June Conference Highlights Latest in Metabolomics

Researchers, health care professionals, academics, industry representatives and others interested in the advanced diagnostic and disease treatment options possible from the analysis of metabolites (the byproducts of cellular metabolism) will want to attend Metabolomics 2012, the eighth annual meeting of the Metabolomics Society, in Washington, D.C., from June 24-28, 2012. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is hosting the event along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Metabolomics Society.

Cell activities such as energy transfer and cell-to-cell communications often are defined by metabolites, small molecules such as lipid, sugar and amino acids that are the byproducts of metabolism. Metabolomics, the study of metabolites from biological samples such as urine, blood and tissues, is growing increasingly important as a scientific and medical discipline because it can provide a “physiological snapshot” of living cells and the organism in which they exist. Data from a metabolomics profile can be used to help identify and explain disease states, genetic disorders and impacts from environmental factors.

Metabolomics 2012 will feature workshops and parallel sessions covering the broad range of biological and technological metabolomics topics, as well as provide ample opportunities for networking. Plenary speakers are scheduled to present the current state-of-the-art in a number of metabolomics areas, including: Frank Gonzalez of the National Cancer Institute on personalized medicine and biomarker development, Mark Viant of the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom) on applications in environmental and human research, Rasmus Bro of Copenhagen University (Denmark) on chemometrics (extracting information from chemical systems by data-driven means), and Alisdair Fernie of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology (Germany) on metabolomics in plant biology.

For more information on Metabolomics 2012 or to register online for the conference, go to www.metabolomics2012.org.

Media Contact: Michael E. Newman, michael.newman@nist.gov, (301) 975-3025

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A User-Centered Approach to Designing Electronic Health Records

On Tuesday, May 22, 2012, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) will host “Creating Usable Electronic Health Records: A User-Centered Design Best Practices Workshop.” The workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at NIST’s Gaithersburg, Md., campus.

Developers, designers, product managers and human factors professionals and other stakeholders are invited to participate in a hands-on workshop focused on enhancing the usability of electronic health record (EHR) systems.

Two morning sessions will offer technical guidance on the NIST Guide to the Processes Approach for Improving the Usability of Electronic Health Records* (NIST Internal Report 7741), the Customized Common Industry Format Template for Electronic Health Record Usability Testing** (NISTIR 7742), and Technical Evaluation, Testing and Validation of the Usability of Electronic Health Records*** (NISTIR 7804); and also provide an update on ongoing research and development efforts for health IT usability at NIST.

Attendees will examine use cases that focus on patient-centered tasks to examine how design and human factors can come together in innovative, usable and safe products.

Registration is required. Please visit www.nist.gov/itl/iad/creating-usable-ehrs.cfm to register.

* www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=907313
** www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=907312
*** www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=909701

Media Contact: Jennifer Huergo, jennifer.huergo@nist.gov, 301-975-6343

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Experts to Discuss Botnet Challenges, Steps for Prevention at May 30 Workshop

Botnet activity is on the rise around the globe, and to help understand this problem the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is hosting a free, day-long workshop May 30, 2012, at its Gaithersburg, Md., campus. Technical Aspects of Botnets will bring stakeholders together to discuss the current state of technology and how best to prevent, detect and mitigate botnets. The problem is serious: researchers estimate an average of about 4 million new botnet infections occur every month.*

A botnet is a collection of compromised computers that have been infected with a malicious program, often a virus. The virus infects the computer generally without the owner knowing. From there, the virus spreads to other computers creating a remotely controlled network of many compromised computers. Botnets can be used for a variety of nuisance and illegal activities including sending spam email, launching denial of service attacks that can bring down websites, or stealing passwords and financial information such as credit card numbers.

NIST wants to engage stakeholders in identifying the available and needed technologies to prevent, identify and remediate botnets and to explore current and future efforts to develop botnet metrics and methodologies for measuring and reporting botnet activities. Participants will explore the technologies, tools and resources that are currently used against botnets and examine their effectiveness, valuable characteristics and gaps or areas that need improvement.

During the panel session on roles and responsibilities, government and private-sector representatives will share their perspectives on what roles the various stakeholders play, including Internet service providers, browser providers, security firms, and search engines and users, and what their responsibilities are or could be.

For more information on Technical Aspects of Botnets, or to register, see http://www.nist.gov/itl/csd/botnets-workshop.cfm. The workshop is free, but those interested in attending must register in advance.

* See, for example, McAfee Quarterly Threat report 2nd Quarter 2011 at www.mcafee.com/us/resources/reports/rp-quarterly-threat-q2-2011.pdf.

Media Contact: Evelyn Brown, evelyn.brown@nist.gov, 301-975-5661

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Locascio, Cavanagh Assume New NIST Leadership Roles

Laurie E. Locascio has been named as the new director of the Material Measurement Laboratory (MML) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) while Richard Cavanagh, who had served as acting director of the lab for the past eight months, has become director of the agency’s Office of Special Programs.

Dr. Laurie E. Locasco 
Dr. Laurie E. Locascio
Credit: NIST
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Dr. Richard Cavanagh 
Dr. Richard Cavanagh
Credit: NIST
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A 26-year veteran of the NIST laboratories, Locascio will lead a program with more than 900 staff members and visiting scientists, an annual budget of more than $160 million and the task of serving as the nation’s reference laboratory for measurements in the chemical, biological and materials sciences. She will oversee activities ranging from fundamental research in the composition, structure and properties of industrial, biological and environmental materials and processes, to the development and dissemination of certified reference materials, critically evaluated data and other measurement quality assurance programs. The MML provides a broad range of industry sectors with research, measurement services and quality assurance tools in areas such as climate change, renewable energy, advanced materials, and medical diagnostics and therapies.

Previously, Locascio served at NIST as a researcher, team leader, group leader, and most recently, as chief of the MML’s Biochemical Science Division. She has published more than 100 scientific papers, holds eight patents, and has received numerous honors and awards, including the NIST Applied Research Award and the Department of Commerce Bronze and Silver Medals. She was recently selected as a fellow of the American Chemical Society.

In his new position, Cavanagh will support the NIST Director and the Associate Director for Laboratory Programs by coordinating and providing oversight of programs that span the mission and expertise of two or more NIST laboratories, such as the Office of Law Enforcement Standards and the Greenhouse Gas Program. He also is responsible for helping ensure that research supporting homeland and national security projects/programs is congruent with NIST’s research capabilities and overall programmatic priorities; for overseeing NIST policies and procedures for human and animal subjects research, and scientific integrity and research misconduct; and for directing the restructuring of NIST’s Reimbursable Agreements Coordination Office.

Cavanagh joined NIST in 1979 and has served previous to his new position as a research chemist, group leader, division chief, deputy director and acting director of two former NIST labs, and finally, as deputy director and acting director of MML. Like Locascio, he is the author of more than 100 scientific papers. Cavanagh is a fellow of the American Vacuum Society and the American Physical Society, and has received the Samuel Wesley Stratton Award from NIST and the Silver and Gold Medals from the Department of Commerce.

Media Contact: Michael E. Newman, michael.newman@nist.gov, (301) 975-3025

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