1 Episode results for "Center For Flights And Superconducting Technologies"
Prof. James Sauls, Professor of Physics at Northwestern University
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If you have suggestions for topics guests at other ideas please send up to info at scientific sense dot com and i can be reached at gil at eappen dot info mike. Yesterday's James falls of physics estimates. Today he's also co director of the center for flights and superconducting technologies at question. Jim thank you for having. Yeah thanks for doing there. So i have to want you jim before you start I was not in the mid eighty s. And it's getting school out but since then i've lost most of engineering so i ask you some basic questions on all topics today Then so i want to start with a. It's a get bill de superconductors. Make better quality celebrators and so this is from last year you say be. She'll impurities can increase the maximum accelerated field of superconducting radio frequency. Cavities in finding the huge potential savings now. So superconductors are are these things that can connect custody but regardless nova systems but what superconducting radio frequency cavities their their superconductors in the shape of a cavalier. So there you actually pull off the air or the interior of the doctor Think of it is not something elipsoid and the typical sizes will be on the order of of a a meter to half meter and some smaller material is used furby land for building suburban radio radiofrequency. Check these we call him as our f kennedy's for short Is a is a matured as a mill. Ob his niobium each elemental superconductor is It's easy to relatively easily manufacturer. She'd serve This how and shape it into geometry's you want and there's a lot of engineering that goes into designing the shape of these categories. Warn the purpose of supporting electromagnetic reaper waves inside of the cabin. And so so so you get super conduct acting phenomenon all the in the cavity superconductivity on x to So let me just say the. The the purpose of these care is is You string together. And if you put charged particles view inject charged particles electrons and protons into the cavity. The electric field of magnetic wave in the cavity can accelerate the judge portal's through the county. And what you do. Is you string many of these. These these kennedy's together. And you coordinate the direction of the electric field. That provides a force in george markle's such that they drove from cavity to county get an additional kick additional force that way you're allowed to you're able to accelerate the charged particles through through the cabinet that makes up the exhort for example the territory on harvey bar the a the r these accelerator large hadron collider in geneva the superconductor its purpose is the the it is to shield to prevent the electromagnetic field from escaping the walls of the cavity and superconductivity is is the is the physics behind find the field inside the vacuum of the solar and so the large hadron collider really big machine but he expensive so so this idea would this help I know that has been some The might years on desktop accelerators. So could you make you know. We swore versions of a particle accelerator using this in the firm nationally. Silla reiter led the design of charities accelerators for many different purposes beyond just doing fundamental physics at very large facilities like like the alleged cer the temperature on slack so their commercial uses for long used as technology for for medical studies to charged particles or radiation to mitigate tissues in some cases are there's a lot of uses for celebrators. These allow us sort of the veterans that have been conducted at a. Let's see Off that has been planned or this would be in a different commission collection. Llc in future direction for next generation for looks over from physics brisket up not down. It's a matter of Of of just how much you can accelerate particles and get them up to high enough energy so that you can explore regions of physics that haven't been explored before so the next generation round up breathe or the next generation of of the international collider will will be larger scale or on a different design in a circular than than a circular accelerators. Such as alex. See the japanese. Government is considering building a high-powered linear accelerator. Future and the firm labs will be involved in designing the cavities for that accelerate. So the union accelerators rather than the the one that be having geneva though. So how how big Watch the length of that year actually to that's being planned. Oh yeah so. I'm not the expert on the on the japanese machine but the ones lack is on. Order of cloners won't okay. So so this technology you see here that The call impurities increase the maximum excavating field. So this is this is sort of new right. So you mentioned the opium as sort of the substrate. That's being used so so. What's the mechanism few what. What impurities yes okay. So in order to Can get this correct. Gimme the flavor of what's going on here. I have to tell you how it is that you super doctors have important property beyond the fact that they can conduct electricity without jewel heating. That's and that's even not entirely the case which i'll come back to as i said earlier. The function of superconductivity is to confine the electromagnetic field inside the vacuum of the cavity. So that you can accelerate charge and the mechanism. By which superman dr do that is called the meissner effect in a in a nutshell. This and you take a mental. So she's niobium and you apply a magnetic field when at a temperature above is conducting transition just normal metal the magnetic field will drain through metal and blatantly so you just basically have a homogeneous magnetic field penetrating metal but as you cool below the nagging transition. The field insight be excluded completely and pushed out. How the superconductor man. This was discover new one thousand nine hundred thirty s meissner oxen feld and into one of the defining properties of seabra conducted. The ask yourself. How does that happen. Well in order to screen the feel what happens is a current woes on the boundary of the superconductor. An exactly balances out the external field. That would be penetrated. So in this case it would be the magnetic electric and magnetic field inside the cavity of the accelerate. Now if you push those currents too hard you make the field strengths too. High a superconductivity fails breaks down a the function of the candidate fails in your whole accelerator shuts down now. All your intend to think that you're about superconductors. Can you say that can conduct electricity now without any jewel heating. And that's true these are called persistent currents but it's only true under dc conditions if you have ac current Then they there are two types of electrons are the super conducting electrons in those that have not yet joined. The supernet can stay and those are subject to only dissipation wanted to do is minimize dissipation. And then you want to maximize the the critical current that the doctor can chief so that. That's what my colleague way. Nam gordon i worked on with. What are the conditions under which we can improve the maximum critical. Feel the are critical field. That can be sustained for the superconductor. In the thing this is called a superhero. Feel accelerator is operating righted. Its maximum limit ended up. The super heating field is when when when you have absolute castro failures Record what we found was that Surprising thing is that if you introducing curates impurities into the circus and super doctor you do decrease in critical current right on the boundary but you increase the region in which the deal can penetrate into the into the superconductor but still be confined. And and that was the that was the funding. We could increase the super heating field and therefore the map maximum accelerating he'll carry but introducing impurities graded in a gradient turned diffused into the surface of the. It's a it's a bit counter. Intuitive say impurity diffusion layers pretty can increase in the Field as a percent so the these some specific kind of impurities are. What's the process by which you would create them so they They experiments that have been done in the discovery. Was that if you don't if you you introduce nitrogen impurities into niobium enough low concentrations in this greatest form you increase increased not only the quality factor of the county How good a resume or is but also the maximum accelerated so they now have maximum accelerating heels up to i think roughly forty nine mega volts per meter still below the theoretical limit. We predict solid. They're still the opportunity for improvement hop. Who is in the milk conditions or even better kelly's and watch the The debt that You know the the system yet. I'm sorry i didn't quite get. That process happens so the broke up. I didn't hear the first part of the question. Yeah so i was wondering what temperature but you know what ambient temperature do. We have four. Well this is important question. The super niobium becomes a superconductor just below about nine kelvin degrees nine degrees above absolute zero. So that's actually a fairly high temperature for cryogenic purposes because liquid helium helium liquefied or calvin and most of the experiments are done at around two kelvin. So that's the temperature is still very low. Low the critical temperature niobium. So that is is in a very good low temperature. superconducting say. Okay my I haven't flown the field. Jim but Egypt suggest spoken tactility The much higher than If you count in spite. I thought we were sort of the hundreds of cabins. That's right we're near a high temperature. Superconductors richer more complicated compounds for example the kube racer made out of copper oxygen in other materials or or barium strontium but there are all pro skype materials in the superconductivity occurs and hopper oxygen planes those superconductors depending upon which family and exactly the processing steps are think the highest one hundred thirty or so. But they have they have other properties that are not bitter not ideal for building accelerators. Certain things like you know. How well do they conduct. Heat do they. One of the key things about niobium is is that once you kula blow at superconducting transition. An energy gap opens up that separates the basically makes it very hard to create any broken any non superconducting electrons so when the number of non superconducting electrons will be exponentially suppressed exhortation gap. There we wear on the surface was called service of mellow. That's a really key property because it gives rise to extremely low dissipation of the superconductor in. That's where the cost savings comes in. It really costs of a. These are big cryogenic facilities that have to keep an accelerator. Cool below at subaru knocking transition plans under operation at full power so so so making us candies with higher quality factors namely lower surface. Resistance is really crucial because it it reduces the cost in cryogenic cooling. Okay so so. The application here is somewhat specific to particle accelerators What discoveries accidental that You get disinterested impurity. Thanks j.j. yes. Yes my colleague. In aggress lino fermilab. They do lots of studies but the it was sort of an Zoning approach to to trying to improve the performance of the accelerator counties. They did various studies where they They had oxygen. They ended up sometimes carbon nitrogen. They did many different days and they found that under a set of processing steps were introduced concentrations of nitrogen that increase the quality factor of these cavities by by almost a factor too so they went up to quality factors of were four times the power level. Let me put that in perspective for for for your listeners. These these carries They're under operation is Cavities that they're the best manmade resonator. So you're watch he'd be time and were pendulum offline galileo's pendulum galileo's pendulum had quality factor probably ten or twenty has been put in motion four years ago and it had a quality factor of ten eleven revolting lost about twenty percent of its amplitude. Today he is risen or they're really tremendous. The only thing better are atomic clocks. You really tremendous Technology innovation yeah. yeah so so you are. You are co director of the center for applied physics and superconducting technology. So this is a collaboration between slowly lap and northwestern that's right it story with Hoover upon the experimental and technology side after the discovery of nitrogen doping in its improvement. They wanted to to see there. There could be more directed. Approach is on improving performance by by bringing in experts on on superconductivity from the materials. In theory point of view. So that's how clever ration- started was was we have a. We have a strong group. In experimental. Supergun activity in north western. We have a group in in theory super activity including myself who form glamorization fermilab our officer research in from the national solar lab seated. Dr center the yeah. It's it's a the intersection of science and physics It seems like it's a. It's a good position to be and now the flu me. That knocked baskin. Combination is a lot of fun. I never done anything like this myself. I always been theorised but then now but it's It's been a pleasure to work on problems. Now that are driven by improving technology. So so it's been very exciting. Run you talk about As part of a cps Other areas here are quantum information science medicine. So on Can you give our on. You know what are the things that you're working on those idiots yes so let me tell you a little bit about our our news. Ventures which you're in the information signs specifically quantum computing quantum sensing building detectors. They're they're extremely sensitive or detecting. Whatever dark matter for example. Yeah so one of the leading not leading technology this being this developed for building quantum computers namely computers that take advantage of of quantum mechanics and quantum logic illness. The the analog of a of a bit in classical school computers called keep it. The physical realization of janette is is an electrical circuit and involved in a superconducting circuit devolving. He's like a capacitor. In doctors but in particular special device do superconductivity call the justice in tunnel junction. And they these devices were you when you cool him down below the conducting transition. They behave like atoms energy levels. Just like an animal you can. Excite address knows Lows states of the quantum circuit with microwave. Photons that's where the resonator come in nature become the devices by which you can communicate with your ads in this case your your era your quantum circuits right so superconductors player. We'll both in store in quantum information in the form of states of these gene. Betsy superconducting cubits. My colleague at northwestern ins was the co-developer developer of the of the cubit called trans mind. That is used worldwide. It's used by google. Ibm the group is everywhere. And it is exactly what i said. It's a an elementary circuit superconductors and the device color justice intel junction. Yeah i know that google demonstrators something. Recently i ibm demonstrate at something some quantum computing capabilities The the issue. I don't know much about him. But you said the issue is practical perspective comic cubits you can get right into a system and how stable they are and so on. Are those the issues. Those are the key issues There's there's a scale of how many how many cue that you can Bill into your into your machine that can also perform a logic operations and the ability to be able to To produce to set gates into out the google machine that announced the the achievements of quantum supremacy tober. Last year that was headed by joan martinez now at university of california barbara and nourishing fifty three of these trans mind cubits but superman but quantum computers gain advantage exponentially as you scale number cubits so even at fifty three q debts home for a particular elroy is not particularly useful. For our point of view of practical computations outperforms the best supercomputer world some sheen oakridge and So yes they That we're right at the cusp of moving into the territory where we can build machines that can actually perform useful computations quantum logic illness so this is the resilient regime of what's called quantum advantage so we're may be able to. In within the five year period saw problems that they really could not otherwise saw even for computers. one would be number of cubic shape. Need jim to say became sort of practical machine. We're shouldn't recenter for superconducting materials and systems. Which is our mission our goal. Our mission is bill beyond state of the art. One computer outperforms. Simple the sycamore machine. So it In our new center for superconducting quantum materials in insistence. our mission is to build a next generation quantum computer in the five year timeframe that will outperform the current state of the art and move us into the region of quantum advantage. So We're we're Collaborating with righetti computing in berkeley from national accelerator lab but here in chicago and northwestern and aims with a number of other partners in the center we have we have twenty institutional partners and eighty science investigators. And it's a abroad program from material science to to To to manufacturing and scaling up build a device you build a machine and that's where the expertise for building large technology programs at fermilab is really really essential for this righetti. Computing is really essential because they have all they have the fabrication facilities in the know how to do do A full scale. Quantum built quantum computers and northwestern and aims have the material science background to improve the performance of the of the cubits for the for the next generation and our our mission has really been to attack the problem of what we call coherence namely the timescale. On which a cubit can actually perform useful logic operations so that time scale is really The frontier tackling and we're really aiming getting a tenfold improvement in coherence times for cubits and also in designing new Different geometry's on architectures for for for machines so we have That is our approach and we were projecting that we can build a machine and a five year timeframe that operates with one hundred hundred fifty cubits with higher performance and This will move into the regime for actually doing computational useful calculations on using quantum logic. That's exciting so as you mentioned the performance capabilities sort of increased exponentially somsak attitude dimensions. One is the number of cubes and other sort of the By thome would be sort of latency. Decoders carl how long can actually hold. Yes that's right so we want to improve the timescale in which The coherence time on which we can actually perform computations with with with our with these cubits so tenfold increase would would translate into a increase in computational power and so this collaboration than jin it is actually going to create something. That is practical. It's like physical machine that can be little doubt the those types of performance guy ballistics. Yes and we're gonna make it. We're gonna make it available to the wider community. Take take use of it and and and program and and do do calculations on it. That's our goal. Who gets the kookiness. The fastest supercomputer. Today's vagina that. I don't know who's the fastest and it's it's hard to get actually precise information on that So we're The the there are new and there are different architectures for building. Quantum computers of those the one i think you're referring to is based on on ion traps and that That technology i'm not really familiar with their advantages and disadvantages to using different technologies. And we're we're really laser focused on using superconductors in quantum circuits because we can engineer them. That's one of the real key. Advantages is that we can design our circuits. We can manufacture. Chips are we can build them into three dimensional architectures using using three d. s. r f. Cavities one fifty two bits and former improvement in Higgins kind lines talking about many many offers of employment from adventure computing. Yes we are. We're talking about doing computations. That really can't be achieved on on current current supercomputers using classical machines. So that's the that's the region which i termed quantum advantage so we have a have a group in in our center who are really experts nist. They're they're they're much more oriented towards developing algorithms and computational codes that can take advantage of a specific architecture so that's a whole thrust area of our center at involves involves Mathematicians and In in computational experts at nasa ames and at fermilab and in a few of a smaller partners who are real experts in this particular area it is golden harvest side of it and then there's a whole software. That's right that's right and we have. We have both in. We have real experts in both areas. My own area is more on the hardware side and and and on the material side but also in the area of Thinking about how one can use these devices for for For doing fundamental physics because that's a major mission at for me national accelerator lab. Is there accelerator lab to pro big questions about. What's the nature of our universe. What's the nature of matter. So so one driver in our center is is is. How do we take advantage of of quantum technologies according to device technologies in order to build better detectors for rare events. Such as you know the passage of of dark matter through Through a particular apparatus so That's one of our other. Drivers is doing fundamental physics with a new technologies isn't quick question on quantum computing side against. It's feel like sort of a massively padded processed machine or its going to behave differently. Well that's the quantum advantage that that you get from using cubits is that essentially you have massive parallel parallel was ation in the coupling of many cubits together so A a way to think about it. Is that if you have a single classical bit It it it's either a one or a zero But the ah quantum bit can be super position of the one in zero so So if you can do one one computational operation on a bit you can do to computational operations on cubit now if you can couple say to cubits together that gives you four possible operations you can do with two cubits and two with a two classical bits so by the time you if you get three cubits and you can couple them together to do a computations entangle them then you can do eight computations and you can see it goes exponentially with the number of cubans so by the time you're fifty three cubits you have. You have a lot of computational advantage because it goes to the power in so long as you can maintain the superposition and tangle mental of your cubits so those are the challenges but any kind of the coding expertise translate from conventional compute. Any adoptable algorithms mathematics. That's going to be different but the plan states some conventional computed on. Now this is. This is a real frontier area and We don't have the same kind of body of codes that will take advantage of of The architecture of quantum machines so the whole area of algorithm development is a really important one. And it's it's one of the really growth fields here is once we have these machines. How are we going to Make use of them so so New codes have to be written and have to be written to the specific architecture of the machine. And it's sometimes difficult to look to into the future but wendy become sort of prevalent in the economy. David supersede completely confidential computing if the cost of manufacturing is not substantially different. Wouldn't it make conventional obselete. I'm not sure about that because the For many for many of our The things that we do Classical computers are quite good so we may be able to set up and provide data to a a a quantum computer using classical computers to interface to them so Once we have the data from computation than we can analyze it with class computer. So i'd i don't see that. Classical computers are going to be disappearing in the in the future. We're and we're not going to be carrying around our iphones with a quantum computer in them. And that's right. Anybody wants to predict the future. You do it at your own. Risk doesn't consensually feel like clean processing and post processing Done by gun venture computing at and really the heart of that the heavy Number crunching done by clinton's compute. Feel like that. Well that's the way i envisioned it. At least that's that's the way it looks to me. But you know time will tell. I want to get into one. Other people titled take a dip into the veered woodham world of quantum Okay quad so so. What is quantum liquid so there My areas particularly in the area of of Of helium so helium is You know the pre the simplest of the inert gas atoms slightness it. It's a really special the whole set of inert gas atoms have closed electron shells. And so there's virtually little chemistry involved at all and helium in. It's the only substance that we have the only material we have. That remains liquid down to the absolute zero of temperature. So on their remarkable as you. Cool Helium down there to their two isotopes of helium as well. The common garden variety isotope is called helium. Four it has atomic number four because the nucleus made out of two protons and two neutrons and bound around the atom is two electrons so this this atom in its ground state is really quite inert. It has an it has zero electric nuclear spin so in the in the context of particle types It's it's a bose on it obeys What are called boasts statistics whereas the light isotope of helium is a neutron. But it's still a stable. Nucleus is a spin one half for on and so chemically they're virtually identical is just one is slightly a lighter mass than the other but but when you cool them down to low temperatures the There's a temperature called the degeneracy point where quantum mechanics takes over macroscopic -ly among all of the atoms and it's win the wave properties of an individual helium atom when the wavelength of that particle becomes larger than inter particle spacing. Then you have to take into account. They indistinguishable of these policies identical helium atoms. And that's the so called quantum regime the regime in which these these liquids behave as quantum liquids with radically different properties than a classical liquid helium. Four which i said is both particle it undergoes a a transition which was predicted by einstein and nine hundred twenty five after he was reading a paper by by bose who had sent it to a Their physique and einstein got it to review and it was bose's paper on the statistics of photons which are also both particles and einstein realized that He he took it from there and he said well what if we had particles that had mass that were also bones in. He predicted that there would be a new face. Transition even for for non interacting bozon's and that was prediction of what is now called the bose einstein condensation point yes this So what are the sort of unique property so it stays liquid at radi closed soups. You know right So over the properties of this when you when you become when helium four which becomes a bose liquid below about to greece kelvin. It becomes a superfluid it will flow just just like a superconducting. A superconducting electrons can flow without resistance the liquid itself will flow without viscosity without dissipation. So you could imagine setting up the fluid flow and tori. It'll ring in In the fluid will just continue flowing indefinitely. And that's the that's the persistent current are the superfluids stated helium four so helium three also becomes a superfluid but it much much lower temperatures so about a thousandth of a degree above absolute zero so since water the applications some practical applications. Now it's It's really The helium liquids for the most part have just been the great gift to To physicist because we learn so much about the about how quantum mechanics operates in matter based on on the studies of these liquids they they are the paradigm for understanding Superconductivity superfluity a even metal physics. They were at the heart of understanding. the basic properties of metals metals themselves even at room temperature or quantum liquids. The electrons are well below the degeneracy point in they behave collectively as a as a quantum liquid in the helium liquids were in many ways Ah paradigm for understanding this behavior so suggest mechanistically as a cool this gown bennett guests to superfluid helium four. It never turns into solid so reasonable gets the superfluid state with never go much further from there. Yeah you get to if you if you go to as you approach. Absolute zero of the liquid just becomes a pure superfluid and there are no expectations basically in its ground state is motionless is is as you possibly can make it except if you put it in motion it will flow collectively without dissipation. Yeah says that you know. Tear jim that a deep understanding of a deep understanding the physics superfluids has implications for other scientific pursuits including astronomy. You'll save for instance. It started base from situations of pulsars and extensively studies that superfluids make the interiors of dense. Comebacks tarts made most neutrals neutron stars and so serve understand the properties of superfluid. You think it has implications for maybe bent on standing neutral stocks. Behave and counselors in those types of things that's in fact our current theoretical Understanding is that Neutron stars pulsars are indeed at temperatures well below these degeneracy and they become superfluids. Neutrons are spin one. Half firm aons just like the helium three atom is and they have attractive forces between them nuclear forces that that combine them up into pairs just like electron pairs superconductor just like helium three atoms and superfluid helium three so they undergo type of both condensation. It's called bcs condensation partying cooper sri for condensation and become superfluids. Below this below this transition point so we best estimates are as that The neutrons in the interior neutron stars once the temperature goes below about about ten ten to the eighth kelvin in the interior of a star. They become superfluid. So you may think that ten to the eighth kelvin is a rather high temperature but you have to compare that interior temperature with the degeneracy temperature of the matter which is about ten to the twelfth kelvin so When neutron stars are born in a in supernova events there created at extremely high temperatures may be tend to the thirteen calvin and they cool extremely rapidly by by the liberation of neutrinos from the interior of the star which which takes the energy away in cool so they cool very rapidly. They cool below ten to the tenth kelvin. Probably in a thousand years or so so most of the pulsars that We observe are really quite cold. And exactly yes you see. Also beyond the metal inciting utah jars talked about one candidate for them seeing dark matter which is approximately twenty five percent of the universe. You're saying that in the universe is that quantum state of light mascot nichols. That forms cost me superfluid so this is sort of a hypothesis. It's not my hypothesis. It's one of the proposals for what is what dark matter might be is a light mass particles it undergoes condensation to form a cosmic superfluid. So i it sounds wild wild even for my from my point of view but but One of the big open questions in physics is a way have good evidence from gravitational observations of galaxies and galaxy structure and so forth is that there's more mass than we can account for just by observing it through electromagnetic signals so we believe. There is a significant amount of mass. That is in the form of what we call dark matter. And we'd like to know what it is has something really new Is there any way in which weekly interacts with ordinary matter. Protons and electrons and so forth. Is there a weak electromagnetic coupling. So that's one of the things we're doing in our our center for superconducting quantum materials and systems as is Seeing if we can these new detectors that Developing based on superconductors with very high sensitivity can find very weak signals associated with various proposals for dark matter. So so that's one of the things that we're doing also in the senate. We're looking for other candidates like what are called the dark photon. It's a cousin of the photon. Our looking for other particles called the accion. And so that's a. That's a really exciting Scientific driver for a developing these technologies. So you don matto A superfood than the properties new properties could seek. That be. haven't been really looking for. Yes so that's a good question. I think what are the proposals that So superfluids can have defects in them. And those defects are are properties of the macroscopic. Quantum mechanical state of the superfluid and those defects are called quantum vortices so So there are and they have a a mathematical property which makes them very stable. They're they're they have top property that that is very hard that can't be undone easily. So depending upon how fast the universe is cool during the early days of its expansion. If there was such a state that formed it may have formed under the conditions of rapid quench. In which case there would be lots of top logical defects formed in this This hypothesized a cosmic superfluid. So what are the. What are the consequences of having all of these top logical defects present. How would we How would we know that they were there. What what role would they play in in cosmetology think those are still largely open questions. Yeah yeah so conclusion. One of the things that you're most excited about stuff that's happening at the st october north different areas That companies are coming together to make lampley asians but if you go to big one or two of those made you think people make the biggest sort of leaps in the next flight years. I think we're going to I think we have a very good road to producing higher. Coherence cubits and an higher performing Microwave detectors. i think those are the two areas. I i think we have the tools and we have the The expertise to really make progress on a five year time timescale. So i think we'll see next generation quantum devices with much higher performance in five years and And including the building of of a full-scale a quantum computer at fermilab right. Yeah it's exciting. This has been great. Jim thanks so much for me. I appreciate it thank you. This is a scientific sense. Podcast providing unscripted with leading academics and researchers on a variety of topics. 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