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Construction and Building Materials 163 (2018) 247–255

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Experimental and theoretical studies of ordinary Portland cement

composites contains nano LSCO perovskite with Fokker-Planck and
chemical reaction equations
Ali Bahari a, Aref Sadeghi-Nik b,⇑, Mandana Roodbari a, Adel Sadeghi-Nik c, Ebrahim Mirshafiei d
Department of Physics, University of Mazandaran, Babolsar, Iran
Young Researchers and Elite Club, Sari Branch, Islamic Azad University, Sari, Iran
Young Researchers and Elite Club, Jouybar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Jouybar, Iran
Dept. of Civil Engineering, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran

h i g h l i g h t s

 Introduction of LSCO perovskite nanoparticles leads to a more condensed matrix.

 LSCO perovskite nanoparticles improved the microstructure of OPC.
 LSCO perovskite nanoparticles enhanced the flexural strength of OPC.
 The optimum amount of LSCO perovskite nanoparticles replaced with OPC is 2%.

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: In this study, LaSr0.5Co0.5O3 perovskite (LSCO), with 1, 2 and 4 wt% of LSCO nanoparticle inserted into the
Received 20 December 2016 OPC (Ordinary Portland Cement) matrix via the sol-gel route. The sample nanocrystallite characteristics,
Received in revised form 8 November 2017 surface topography, flexural strength, the influence of crystallite’s size, chemical interaction, and the cor-
Accepted 9 December 2017
relation between carrier diffusion; surface roughness were studied using some related techniques and
Master and Fokker-Planck approaches. The obtained results from LSCO/cement discrete cell structure
show that the sample cement mortar containing 2 wt% LSCO nanocrystallites has a more stable mechan-
ical structure and higher flexural strength due to the its permanent electric dipole, more occupation of
Cement matrix
the trap sites into the cement, and diffusion of particles (crystallites) through the cell boundary and
Fokker-Planck equation inside the cells.
Perovskite For this purpose, microscopic parameters such as the trap and escaping rate in the LSCO+ cement dis-
crete cells have been introduced and discussed with considering Master nonlinear Fokker–Planck and
chemical reaction equations based on non-fluctuations of the LSCO particle position explored in the cells
(which strongly correlated with random sequence). The results indicate an inhomogeneous nano struc-
tures characteristic, which is beyond the equilibrium stationary state with Gaussian fluctuations for
the particle position.
Ó 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction design properties [9,10]. The performed researches [11–17] show

that a number of nanoparticles are able to enhance some proper-
Today, considerable usage of different types of concrete in con- ties of materials.
struction industry led to conducting many researches [1–8] in this Some undesirable, noxious gases and unburnt hydrocarbons
regards. Obviously, modification of cement characteristic, as one of such as Co produced from cementitious materials are released into
the main basic components of concrete, has direct relationship the surrounding environment and can damage our life. To get rid of
with enhancement of concrete properties. Moreover, the unwanted emissions of these gases, the bond and correlation
mechanical property of the material highly depends on its mix between them should be broken. It leads to understanding how
additive nanoparticles behave in the cement matrix. Although pre-
⇑ Corresponding author. vious investigations have found [18–22] that cement-based mate-
E-mail addresses: (A. Bahari), rials with nanocrystallites are tailored from elongated cement
(A. Sadeghi-Nik).
0950-0618/Ó 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
248 A. Bahari et al. / Construction and Building Materials 163 (2018) 247–255

discrete cells or aggregated/cluster crystallites, cement properties general, the cement mortar flexural strength of perovskite samples
and nanostructural characteristics heavily change with features, SN-1 and SN-2 is increased up to 2% weight of Portland cement
surface topography, and the diffusion phenomenon into the compared to the control sample (CS) by adding nanoparticles. It
cement discrete cell. is clear that the largest increase in flexural strength can be
Researchers previously studied the effect of nanoparticles such observed in the sample containing 2 wt% nano-perovskite parti-
as TiO2 [20,21], CNT [23–26], montmorillonite [27–29], and SiC cles, whereas the flexural strength reduced in other samples (SN-
[30,31] on cement and found that these nanoparticles can 4), due to the agglomeration of LSCO nanoparticles on the samples.
effectively influence the mechanical nanostructure of the cement The increasing in flexural strength can be related to enhancement
matrix. It is worth mentioning that the mechanical properties of of nanostructure of the cement matrix, indeed, this result is in
cement-based materials are recognized as the most essential favor of previous studies [19,22,24,27,29,30,39,40].
factors in their quality assurance purposes [32,33]. As a result, in
this study, perovskite–type oxides, LaSr0.5Co0.5O3 (LSCO), due to 3.2. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) analysis
their potential to fulfill requirements such as high activity and
mechanical stability [34,35] have been studied. In one glance, these The LSCO additive effects in the cement compound and sample
various properties arise from the crystal symmetry adopted by surface topography were investigated using an EDS analyzer
these materials. For this purpose, for finding the influence of addi- (SAMx Company, France) operating at an accelerating voltage of
tive nanoparticles of LSCO (synthesized with sol-gel processes) on 5 kV, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), atomic force
the cement cluster or matrix, topography variation of cement com- microscopy (AFM), and DE-SPM techniques.
pounds were investigated using energy dispersive X-ray spec- The EDS (Fig. 2) as an example, and Tables 4–6), FTIR (Figs. 3–5,
troscopy (EDS), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Table 6) spectra, and AFM images (Figs. 6–8) reveal that the
atomic force microscopy (AFM), and DE- SPM techniques. cement structure and mechanical characteristics, which naturally
Depending on the amount of LSCO nanocrystallites in the contain efficient catalysts including (Fe2O3) and sensible support-
cement materials, different mechanical and durability properties ing materials (CaCO3, CaO, SiO2, MgO, and Al2O3), are affected by
can be seen in these materials. The crystallite’s phases and surface the LSCO nanoparticle additive.
topography, compressive and flexural strength of the cement
matrix with 0, 1, 2, and 4 wt% of LSCO nanoparticle’s additives, 3.3. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy analysis
labeled CS, SN-1, SN-2 and SN-4, respectively, along with the influ-
ence of particle size and other phenomena were experimentally To study single- and double-bonds with different vibrations and
and theoretically discussed by considering Master nonlinear Fok- characterizing their related functional group of OPC, FTIR analysis,
ker–Planck equation, chemical reaction, and diffusion through reported on a Bruker-Tensor 27 spectrometer was applied. The
the discrete cells. FTIR spectrum in Fig. 3 shows that LSCO is consistent with 1500,
1860, and 2540 cm1 peaks of perovskite La0.5Sr0.5CoO3 phases,
2. Material and methods labeled P1, P2 and P3. In the prepared gel, the 3200 cm1 band
has to be attributed to hydroxyl groups and to the OH from water
In this research, tap water and natural sand for all mixtures and ethanol.
according to ASTM C778 [36] standard were used. Ordinary Portland Fig. 4 shows the FTIR spectra of cement powder according to
Cement (OPC), ASTM type I [37], produced by Bojnourd Cement Co., which the peak located at the wave numbers of 3447 cm1 is
with chemical (Table 1) and physical (Table 2) properties was used related to the moisture in cement powder which may have been
in mortar mixtures (Table 3). A superplasticizer was used in order adsorbed during sample preparation for the FTIR analysis. The
to keep the flow ability constant at about 15 mm. To measure the characterization and related functional groups of OPC are pre-
flexural strength of the present samples, ASTM C348 [38] was used. sented in Fig. 4 and Table 7. The FTIR spectra of cement sample
After 24 h, mortar samples were extracted from the mold and cured containing 2 wt% of LSCO nanoparticles is presented in Fig. 5 as
in a storage tank of water until they were tested. well.
LSCO samples with La:Sr:Co; 2:1:1 M ratio were synthesized Figs. 4 and 5 reveal that the amount of two main bands of CO2 3
with the sol-gel method. Indeed, in the present study, after heating (v3) and SiAO (tetrahedron) increased as compared to the refer-
the samples to 50 °C (in the atmospheric media) in a hotplate con- ence sample (OPC in Fig. 4). These two bands assigned to asymmet-
taining a magnet piece, they (LSCO:Cement) were turned into pow- ric stretching vibrations (v3) of CO2
3 and stretching vibrations have
der (T = 80 °C in this case). In the end, different weights of also some other out-of-plane bending vibrations v2 of CO2 3 and
crystallites in the cement matrix (1, 2, and 4 wt% LSCO/Cement), bending vibrations of OAH bands. It is because the density of par-
labeled SN-1, SN-2, and SN-4, respectively, were synthesized using ticles and/or carriers can be changes and make an electrostatic
the sol-gel processes. Cement paste containing 0, 1, 2, and 4 wt% potential to bend the pointed bands. The results show an improve-
LSCO nanoparticles’ structural characteristics were thus evaluated ment of nano structural and mechanical properties of LSCO/cement
using FTIR and AFM techniques. samples due to higher transmittance peak of SiAO.
There is the stretching vibration mode of functional group of
3. Results and discussion CO3 at 1429 cm1. It could be due to Co in LSCO which is relatively
consumed (or reduced the intensity of transmittance of v3 of CO2 3
3.1. Flexural strength peak in Fig. 5) by the reaction of LSCO nano particles with cement
matrix. Moreover, it could be due to cubic closed – packed arrange-
Fig. 1 shows the results of the flexural strength of cement mor- ment of CO and O ions with La (or Sr) ions and filling ratio of octa-
tar specimens processed at different times (3, 7, and 28 days). In hedral interstitial sites.

Table 1
The amount of material in the chemical composition of cement (wt%).

Items SiO2 Al2O3 Fe2O3 CaO MgO Na2O K2O SO3 L.O.I
OPC 20.40 4.56 3.40 64.12 1.93 0.32 0.70 2.30 2.20
A. Bahari et al. / Construction and Building Materials 163 (2018) 247–255 249

Table 2
Some of the physical characteristics of cement.

Specific Surface, Blaine (cm2/g) Autoclave Expansion (%) Compressive Strength (MPa)
3 days 7 days 28 days
3000 0.06 30 36 47

Table 3
The amount of material in mortar mixers.

Mix Nano LSCO W/C (g) SP

(wt%) (%) (%)
Cement Sand Water
CS 0 0.485 1300 3575 630.5 0.5
SN-1 1 0.485 1300 3575 630.5 0.7
SN-2 2 0.485 1300 3575 630.5 1.0
SN-4 4 0.485 1300 3575 630.5 1.2

CS: Control Sample; W/C: Water-Cement ratio; SP: Superplasticizer.

Si-OH wagging mode, and the one at 954 cm1 can be assigned
to the stretching vibrations of La-Sr, or Sr-Co and/or La-Co groups.
In addition, the peak assigned to OASiAO bending vibrations is
located at 565 cm1, while the SiAOASi symmetric stretching
vibration is located at 799 cm1.
The EDS spectrum which is obtained from point scan analysis
and related data and depicted in Fig. 1 confirms that the nanopar-
ticles consisted of La, Sr, and Co. The main aim of the present study
is to make progress toward identifying the effect of LSCO additive
on the chemistry and topography of the OPC structure.

3.4. Atomic-force microscopy (AFM) and DE-SPM techniques

AFM measurements were taken using a Daulscope TM DS 95-

200/50 for the roughness and imaging of the surface topography.
Various investigations in [41–43] reported that surface
Fig. 1. Flexural strength of cement mortar samples. roughness can represent the porosity of the sample. In parallel
with the above mentioned studies, as shown in AFM images
(Figs. 6–8), the inhomogeneous surface of sample surface can be
observed in AFM images by increasing the LSCO concentration to
0.1 wt ratio. It represents how aggregated nanoparticles are gradu-
ally formed as LSCO is added to the cement matrix. Furthermore,
the concentration of LSCO is increased from 1% to 2% in weight.
It is clear that a better and uniform distribution of particles is
formed, whereas the nanoparticles are aggregated to form an inho-
mogeneous surface for more than 2% LSCO (up to 4% in weight). It
in fact depicts that most of the nanoparticles are randomly dis-
persed when LSCO is added; therefore, a quasi-homogenous sur-
face is produced, i.e. the agglomerated particles with irregular
sizes are dispersed in the matrix (Fig. 7).
Therefore, in accordance with AFM images, altering the percent-
ages of LSCO additive led to a change in the surface topography of
the samples. In samples SN-2, a regular distribution of crystallites
is formed, whereas sample CS depicts an irregular distribution of
nanoparticles. Consequently, surface roughness is studied for sta-
tistical data based on probability functions with DM-SPM software
Fig. 2. EDS spectrum of LSCO. Ka and Kb show two of the longest transitions
(See Figs. 9–14). The mean square root of surface roughness values
between energy levels. Au is for coating the sample in EDS processes. was obtained with this tool. The roughness of the surface alters the
absorption, diffusion, and chemical interactions of LSCO crystallites
and cement crystallites in a discrete cell or cluster. Traps and wells
The OH bending band of water in the gel is observed at 1650 on and into the composite structure were considered, and the
cm1. The FTIR spectra demonstrate the characteristics of peaks chemical reaction and diffusion equations in a cluster (or a discrete
of OH at the surface (3050 cm1). Moreover, the band located at cell) were explored based on Master nonlinear Fokker Planck equa-
3449 cm1 can be assigned to the stretching vibration of H2O tions [44] (see the next section). The different concentration of
molecules. The lowest-frequency band at 458 cm1 can be due to LSCO nano particles causes an electronic potential gradient and
250 A. Bahari et al. / Construction and Building Materials 163 (2018) 247–255

Table 4
Quantitative results in OPC.

Cement compound Na2O SO3 MnO MgO K2O Fe2O3 Al2O3 CaO SiO2 TiO2 La & Lu L.O.I
%W 0.04 3.8 0.2 2.4 0.86 5.5 4.2 63.3 16.0 0.23 <1 3.47

Table 5
Quantitative results of EDS analyses.

Elements in cement compound C O Mg Al Si S K Ca Fe

%W 27.28 35.79 1.31 0.87 4.51 1.00 0.58 26.60 2.07

Table 6
EDS quantification (standardless) normalized sample elements.

Elements in EDS for Weight Percentage Atomic Percentage Weight Percentage Atomic Percentage Weight Percentage Atomic Percentage
Ka transition SN-1 sample SN-1 sample SN-2 sample SN-2 sample SN-4 sample SN-4 sample
Sr 9.03 7.46 28.89 26.73 41.31 43.06
La 27.11 14.13 30.98 18.08 38.14 25.08
Co + C 63.85 78.41 40.12 55.19 20.56 31.86

Fig. 3. FTIR spectrum of La0.5Sr0.5CoO3 (LSCO = La:Sr:Co = 2:1:1).

therefore an electrical field. The particle and/or carrier mobility is

Fig. 5. FTIR spectrum of SN-2 sample.
directly (inversely) proportional to particle velocity (electric field).
Some researchers have been conducted to study sample surface
topography and roughness parameters for diffusing and escaping particles’ mobility can effect on transport processes in the discrete
processes [41–43]. In the present work, SN-2 sample with more cells and clusters and fill porous.
It was found in DM-SPM data (Figs. 13–14) that to study the
sample characteristics, not only the crystallite size, but also the
statistical parameters should be involved. It, of course, leads to
an inhomogeneous-structured cell (Fig. 9 as an example). Accord-
ing to the Hall Petch formula ((Eq. (1)) [45], the SN-2, 2 wt%
LSCO/cement sample is more stable than other samples due to
the smaller size of crystallites in it.

ry ¼ r0 þ pffiffiffiy ffi ð1Þ
In Eq. (1), ry is the yield stress. ro (a constant value) can be
obtained when stress starts with the amount of dislocation move-
ment. D (crystallite size) can be measured with X-powder and/or
the DM-SPM technique. ky is the strengthening coefficient. With
these explanations in mind, it was found that with decreasing
the particle size, both the yield strength and yield stress of LSCO
+ cement composites increased.
By means of the DM-SPM technique various parameters related
Fig. 4. FTIR spectrum of OPC. to the roughness of the surface were determined. These parameters
A. Bahari et al. / Construction and Building Materials 163 (2018) 247–255 251

Fig. 6. Comparison of the surface topography of (a) CS, (b) SN-2, and (c) SN-4 samples.

Fig. 7. Three-dimensional AFM image of SN-2 sample.

include the peak-valley height (Sy), the average of roughness (Sa),

and root mean square (Sq). The relations related to these parame-
ters are given below (Eq. (2)) [46] and the measurement data are
recorded in Table 8.
u N1
1XN1 u1 X
Sa ¼ jzðxl Þj; Sm ¼ zðxl Þ; Sq ¼ t ðzðxl ÞÞ2 ð2Þ
N l¼0 N l¼0 N l¼0

By comparing the measurement values of the present samples

(Table 8), it becomes clear that the SN-2 sample has a relatively flat
surface. It means that strain and dislocation inside the SN-2 are
less than those in the other samples and can thus span cracks
inside discrete cells and stabilize the cells (as nano-building
blocks) against the stress and diffusion phenomena (see Fig. 8 Fig. 8. Comparison of the surface topography of (a) CS to (b) SN-2 samples. In the CS
and [45]). surface, there are no distinguishable crystallites which can be analyzed with the
SM-SPM technique.

4. Theoretical discussion
quences of stochastic resetting on the FTIR and AFM topography
Researchers had mostly claimed that crystallites (nanoparticles, spectra, should be considered as allowing both additive and matrix
LSCO crystallites here) are essentially immobile while entering the crystallites to be mobile due to the volume swelling of the cell
additive particles into the cement matrix cells, whereas the present formed by the local reaction. It is also because the particles can
discussion regarding to surface topography data in Figs. 10–13 and be stochastically reset, leading to an enhanced escape rate of the
scattering diagram (Fig. 14) did not confirm their claims. The additive crystallite. As reported in our previous research [47], den-
chemical reactions and diffusions in the discrete cells, as a conse- sity fluctuations statistically, considering the transfer and Master
252 A. Bahari et al. / Construction and Building Materials 163 (2018) 247–255

Table 7 considered. The results show that a nonzero rate of fluctuations

Wave number and functional group in FTIR spectra of cement has a rather rich and dramatic effect on the diffusion process.
paste [24,39,40].
Based on the direct transmission probability at composite
Wave number (m1) Functional group crystallite’s contact point, the probability of densities at two ran-
448–463 v2 of SiO2
4 domly selected points in a cell is introduced as follow:
520–540 v4 of SiO2
4 Z 1 Z 1
601 v3 of SO4
qj ¼ Pðxi ; xj Þdxi dxj ; ð3Þ
664 v4of SO4 0 0
1100–1200 v4 of SO2
1400–1500 v3 of CO2
3 where P (xi, xj) is the overlapping function of two additive and
1620–1624 V2 of water in sulfate matrix particles. In the present study, P (xi, xj) is considered as a
1640–1650 V2 of H2O
random variable parameter and included in the master nonlinear
1700–2984 CaCO3
3440–3450 v1 + v3 of H2O Fokker-Planck and chemical reaction equations. The diffusion coef-
ficients are associated with a weighted mean over all possible paths
for particle movements. These facts which indicate fluctuation and
movement of a particle from a cell to another cell are based on the
description of stochastic processes for both chemical and diffusion
mechanisms. They can randomly occur in discrete cells, suggesting
that the behavior of LSCO and cement crystallites should be
described by specifying the reaction rate (k) and diffusing coeffi-
cient (D) in the probability of a bond being formed between these
crystallites. In this way, this bonding can take place in the whole
discrete cell. Otherwise, it will diminish the composite production
rate because of less free and assessable matrix sets. However, the
species can still create free sites by furcating in the FTIR bonds
due to the break in LSCO cement bonds. Moreover, due to the
stress inside the samples, the variation in the transport of particles
through the matrix should be also involved in the present
In this view, the joint probability distribution (P(nk, t)) of all n-
species in each cell is introduced. Because a particle is created and/
or disappeared in the cell, the Master equation is [47]:

@Pðnk ; tÞ X X
¼ D nk ðEk  1ÞPðnk ; tÞ þ 2D1 nk ðnk  1ÞðE2k
@t k k
Fig. 9. The LSCO crystallite length size determined using SD-SPM data for SN-2 @Pðnk ; tÞ
sample prepared at 80 °C.  1ÞPðnk ; tÞ;
¼ D nk xdk ðE1 d Ek  1ÞPðnk ; tÞ; ð4Þ
equations which are based on occupation number and probabilities kd

of diffusion of particles through discrete cells (density peaks-area where E1 and E indicate annihilation and creation of a crystallite in
under peaks- are not independent random events) need to be the cell, respectively. For further simplification (see our previous

Fig. 10. DM-SPM measurement data obtained from 100  100 nm2 surface area on the surface of SN-1 sample, synthesized at 80 °C.
A. Bahari et al. / Construction and Building Materials 163 (2018) 247–255 253

Fig. 11. DM-SPM measurement data obtained from 100  100 nm2 surface area on the surface of SN-2 sample, synthesized at 80 °C.

Fig. 12. DM-SPM measurement data obtained from 100  100 nm2 surface area on the surface of SN-4 sample, synthesized at 80 °C.

study in Ref. [47] for more details), a local particle density function (Figs. 10–13), a cell includes a large number of wells/traps in which
u(r) has been chosen as: the particles can be temporarily caught and change the density of
traps between x and x + dx, each with a trapping probability of /
uðrÞ ¼ ð5Þ (x, t). Therefore, the probability distribution in the interval dx is
given by a nonlinear Fokker–Planck equation, as follows [47]:
where r is the position of the center of the cell in space. The time
variation of density is given by: @Pðx; tÞ @2 2
¼ 2 Pðx; tÞ ð7Þ
Z @t @x ;ðx; tÞ
@ < uðrÞ >
¼ xfrjRg < uðrÞ > dR; ð6Þ
where /(x, t) is not the constant diffusion coefficient. To solve Eq.
which includes a continuous, local variation of the transfer proba- (7), the diffusion coefficients based on the density of traps and
bility. Now, the operator x is supposed to occur randomly through- the rate of escaping particles should be considered. Since the med-
out the affected volume. As shown in the surface topography ium is inhomogeneous, there exists a distribution of barrier heights.
254 A. Bahari et al. / Construction and Building Materials 163 (2018) 247–255

nevertheless, the generalized diffusion coefficient, D, should be

determined by the following relation based on [48]:

SinðpaÞ a 2
Da ¼ gd ð8Þ
where g is the transport parameter, d is about R/2, and a is the
Miller index of orientation which shows the crystallite phase.

5. Conclusions

In the present work, La Sr0.5Co0.5O3 perovskite crystallites were

synthesized with the sol-gel route. Then 1, 2 and 4 wt% of LSCO
nanocrystallites, labeled to SN-1, SN-2, and SN-4, were immedi-
ately inserted into the cement paste matrix and studied their struc-
tural and mechanical properties with some related techniques. The
EDS pattern, mechanical test, and data show an introduction of a
Fig. 13. One-dimensional DM-SPM spectrum of SN-2 sample prepared at 80 °C.
relatively small amount of LSCO nanoparticles (2 wt%) into cement
matrix could enhance the flexural strength of LSCO/cement
Furthermore, as AFM and DM-SPM analysis demonstrated, the
SN-2 sample has less surface roughness, fewer cracks, and more
resistant structure compared to local lattice dislocation, suggesting
that it can be used in future cement-based material productions.
Also, the results show that SN-2 sample has a more stable mechan-
ical structure and higher flexural strength due to the more occupa-
tion of the trap sites into the cement and diffusion of particles
(crystallites) through the cell boundary and inside the cells.
In parallel with experimental explanations, it is worth noting
that the nano-structural, mechanical, and physical properties of
LSCO+ cement composites are often tailored through the formation
of either crystallite bonds or non-integrated stoichiometric phases.
The capability of generating composites of a perovskite oxide, LSCO
additive, and cement matrix should motivate future investigations
of the fluctuations within discrete cells which can be perturbed
with dipole moments, resulting in a Fano-like asymmetric shape
(see our previous research on these materials in Ref. [47]).


Fig. 14. The distribution of SD-SPM data and AFM image of SN-2 sample prepared This study was conducted with the financial support of the Iran
at 80 °C.
National Science Foundation (INSF), provided through a national
project for studying the cement structure modified by LSCO
nanoparticles, project No. 93021714.

Table 8
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