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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 20, Iss. 18 — Aug. 27, 2012
  • pp: 20698–20704
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Surface plasmon-enhanced lasing in dye-doped cholesteric liquid crystals

Cheng-Yu Shih and Hui-Chen Yeh  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 20, Issue 18, pp. 20698-20704 (2012)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.20.020698


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Abstract

This study shows the results of a photonic band-edge laser using dye-doped cholesteric liquid crystals (CLCs) combined with silver (Ag) nanoparticles. When the Ag nanoparticle surface plasmon resonance wavelength matched the excitation source wavelength, the large optical fields provided by surface plasmons increased the fluorescence of dye molecules by enhancing the molecular excitation rate, achieving a low lasing threshold and high pumping efficiency.

© 2012 OSA

1. Introduction

Cholesteric liquid crystals (CLCs) possess a helical arrangement of the directors by adding chiral molecules into nematic liquid crystal (LC) media. The ordered structure with a periodic dielectric constant causes a photonic bandgap, at edges of which the group velocity of light approaches zero and leads to the divergence of the density of photon states. As the embedded active dyes are excited, the rate of spontaneous emission is enhanced, and low-threshold lasing occurs at the bandgap edges [1

1. V. I. Kopp, B. Fan, H. K. M. Vithana, and A. Z. Genack, “Low-threshold lasing at the edge of a photonic stop band in cholesteric liquid crystals,” Opt. Lett. 23(21), 1707–1709 (1998). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Strategies to improve the pumping efficiency and lower the lasing threshold of the CLC laser have been reported frequently [2

2. Y. Matsuhisa, Y. Huang, Y. Zhou, S. T. Wu, R. Ozaki, Y. Takao, A. Fujii, and M. Ozaki, “Low-threshold and high efficiency lasing upon band-edge excitation in a cholesteric liquid crystal,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 90(9), 091114 (2007). [CrossRef]

9

9. C. Mowatt, S. M. Morris, T. D. Wilkinson, and H. J. Coles, “High slope efficiency liquid crystal lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 97(25), 251109 (2010). [CrossRef]

]. Fluorescence enhancement may provide a potentially crucial solution. Metal nanoparticles have been found to enhance fluorescence because of the localized surface plasmon interaction with fluorescent molecules [10

10. S. Kalele, A. C. Deshpande, S. B. Singh, and S. K. Kulkarni, “Tuning luminescence intensity of RHO6G dye using silver nanoparticles,” Bull. Mater. Sci. 31(3), 541–544 (2008). [CrossRef]

,11

11. D. Ancukiewicz, NNIN REU Research Accomplishments (National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network, 2008).

]. The enhancement phenomenon has many applications in biological sciences [12

12. R.-Y. He, G.-L. Chang, H.-L. Wu, C.-H. Lin, K.-C. Chiu, Y.-D. Su, and S.-J. Chen, “Enhanced live cell membrane imaging using surface plasmon-enhanced total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy,” Opt. Express 14(20), 9307–9316 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

,13

13. J. R. Lakowicz, B. Shen, Z. Gryczynski, S. D’Auria, and I. Gryczynski, “Intrinsic fluorescence from DNA can be enhanced by metallic particles,” Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 286(5), 875–879 (2001). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], light-emitting devices [14

14. A. Kumar, J. Prakash, D. S. Mehta, A. M. Biradar, and W. Haase, “Enhanced photoluminescence in gold nanoparticles doped ferroelectric liquid crystals,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95(2), 023117 (2009). [CrossRef]

,15

15. S.-H. Chen and J.-Y. Jhong, “Enhanced luminescence efficiency by surface plasmon coupling of Ag nanoparticles in a polymer light-emitting diode,” Opt. Express 19(18), 16843–16850 (2011). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], and random lasers [16

16. O. Popov, A. Zilbershtein, and D. Davidov, “Enhanced amplified emission induced by surface plasmons on gold nanoparticles in polymer film random lasers,” Polym. Adv. Technol. 18(9), 751–755 (2007). [CrossRef]

,17

17. T. Nakamura, T. Hosaka, and S. Adachi, “Gold-nanoparticle-assisted random lasing from powdered GaN,” Opt. Express 19(2), 467–475 (2011). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

].

This study shows the results from a photonic band-edge laser using dye-doped CLCs combined with silver (Ag) nanoparticles. Light incident onto a Ag nanoparticle could induce localized surface plasmon resonance, enhancing the electromagnetic field on the Ag particle surface. When the Ag nanoparticle surface plasmon resonance wavelength matches the wavelength of the excitation source, the large optical fields provided by surface plasmons increases the fluorescence intensity of dye molecules by enhancing the molecular excitation rate, achieving a low lasing threshold and high pumping efficiency.

2. Sample fabrication

The dye-doped CLC samples used in this study were assembled with two indium tin oxide (ITO) glass substrates. One was coated with a polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) layer and rubbed for homogeneous alignment. The other was coated with a Ag film using a sputtering system to produce an average thickness of 71 nm. The Ag film was then nucleated by annealing to form Ag nanoparticles on the substrate surface. Table 1

Table 1. Four Substrates at Different Annealing Temperatures for Nanoparticle Formation

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lists four substrates at different annealing temperatures for 10 min. The surface status of fabricated Ag nanoparticles was confirmed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The CLC host was prepared by mixing 21.8 wt % of chiral agent S811 (Merck) in nematic LC host MDA3970 (Merck). The extraordinary and ordinary refractive indices of MDA3970 were 1.6309 and 1.4987, respectively, at a wavelength of 589.3 nm and a temperature of 20 °C. The helical twist power of S811 was 11.9 μm−1 at 20 °C for MDA3970. The active dye used to emit fluorescence in this study was the laser dye DCM (4-dicyanomethylene-2-methyl-6-p-dimethylaminostyryl-4H-pyran, Exciton), dissolved into the CLC host at a concentration of 0.5 wt %. The mixture was capillary filled into empty cells with a 15 μm gap to form planar dye-doped CLC Samples A, B, C, and D with Substrates A, B, C, and D (Table 1), respectively. Another conventional dye-doped CLC Sample E without Ag nanoparticles was fabricated for comparison. Figure 1
Fig. 1 Schematic diagram of the sample structure (a) with Ag particles and (b) without Ag particles.
schematically depicts the profile of the samples.

3. Results and discussion

Figure 2
Fig. 2 SEM images of annealed Ag nanoparticles on substrates A, B, C, and D.
shows the SEM images of the Ag nanoparticle layer. At a fixed deposited film thickness, the average diameter of the Ag nanoparticles expands and the density of particles decreases as the annealing temperature increases. Figure 3
Fig. 3 Histograms of the particle size distribution of Substrates A, B, C, and D.
presents the particle size distribution of Substrates A, B, C, and D. The average diameter and density of particles are presented in Table 2

Table 2. Average Diameter and Density of Particles on Substrates A, B, C, and D

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. Figure 4
Fig. 4 (a) Absorption spectra and (b) appearance photographs of Substrates A, B, C, and D.
shows the absorption spectra of Ag nanoparticles measured with a spectrometer (Ocean Optics 2000) and the substrate appearance at various annealing temperatures. The surface plasmon resonance wavelength determined by the wavelength at the absorption peak was red-shifted with the increase in the size of Ag nanoparticles, being approximately 450, 500, 520, and 550 nm for Substrates A, B, C, and D, respectively. The plasmonic response of a metal nanoparticle to illumination can be varied as the dielectric property of the environment is altered [18

18. K. L. Kelly, E. Coronado, L. L. Zhao, and G. C. Schatz, “The optical properties of metal nanoparticles: the influence of size, shape, and dielectric environment,” J. Phys. Chem. B 107(3), 668–677 (2003). [CrossRef]

]. The surface plasmon resonance wavelengths were measured at approximately 480, 530, 550, and 580 nm, respectively, for Substrates A, B, C, and D in the surroundings of the CLC host used in this study.

Figure 5
Fig. 5 Absorption spectra of the dye-doped CLC Samples A, B, C, and D, with Ag nanoparticles, and the conventional Sample E.
shows the sample absorption spectra, which consist of the absorption caused by DCM and Ag nanoparticles and the Bragg reflection of the CLCs, located between 580 and 627 nm. The red-shift of the surface plasmon resonance wavelength caused the absorption in the Bragg reflection band to increase monotonically. The maximum absorption at an excitation wavelength of 532 nm occurred in Sample B, the surface plasmon resonance wavelength of which matched the excitation wavelength.

Figure 6
Fig. 6 Fluorescence spectra of the dye-doped CLC Samples A, B, C, and D, with Ag nanoparticles, and the conventional Sample E pumped by a 532 nm continuous light.
displays the fluorescence spectra of the samples pumped by a 532 nm continuous light from a diode-pumped solid-state laser, measured with a spectrometer by PVA-side excitation and PVA-side detection. Fluorescence was enhanced before reaching the maximum in Sample B, and then decreasing with the red-shift of the surface plasmon resonance wavelength of the Ag nanoparticles. The fluorescence emission rate γem for a dye molecule placed near a metal nanoparticle can be expressed as
γem=qγexcq|Eexcpmol|2,
(1)
where q represents the emission quantum yield, and γexc represents the molecular excitation rate depending on the local excitation field Eexc, and the dipole moment pmol of the molecular transition causing the fluorescence emission [19

19. T. Härtling, P. Reichenbach, and L. M. Eng, “Near-field coupling of a single fluorescent molecule and a spherical gold nanoparticle,” Opt. Express 15(20), 12806–12817 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. The excitation light incident onto Ag nanoparticles induced the conduction electrons to oscillate coherently with the oscillating electric field. The collective oscillation of the electrons occurring at the particle surfaces resulted in the significant enhancement of the local electric field intensity near the surface. The enhanced local electric field intensified the excitation rate of laser dyes in proximity to the Ag nanoparticles, thereby increasing the fluorescence intensity [19

19. T. Härtling, P. Reichenbach, and L. M. Eng, “Near-field coupling of a single fluorescent molecule and a spherical gold nanoparticle,” Opt. Express 15(20), 12806–12817 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. The Ag nanoparticles in Sample B induced the greatest enhancement of excitation light near the surface of the particles because the surface plasmon resonance wavelength matched the excitation wavelength, resulting in maximum fluorescence intensity.

The lasing performance of the samples was examined under optical excitation using a frequency-doubled pulsed Nd:YAG laser with a wavelength of 532 nm. The pulse duration was 8 ns with a 10 Hz repetition rate. A lens with a 20 cm focal length was used to focus the pumping energy on the PVA side of the samples at an incident angle of 25° from the surface normal. The relative lasing intensities were recorded from the PVA side of the samples using a spectrometer. Figure 7
Fig. 7 The output lasing intensity of the dye-doped CLC samples as a function of the pumping energy from the Nd:YAG pulsed laser at a 532 nm wavelength.
shows the output lasing intensity at the long wavelength band edge of 627 nm from the samples as a function of the pumping laser energy. Pumping efficiency was increased in conjunction with the surface plasmon resonance wavelength, before reaching a maximum in Sample B because of the maximum fluorescence intensity, and then decreasing. The slope efficiency of Sample B increased by a factor of 1.6 when compared with that of Sample E. The lasing threshold decreased from 1.6 μJ/pulse for the conventional Sample E to 1.0 μJ/pulse for Sample B with the maximum fluorescence enhancement. The decrease in lasing threshold and the increase in pumping efficiency compared with the conventional CLC sample can be understood as the increase in the dye molecule fluorescence emission rate caused by a larger electric field of the excitation light resulting from the surface plasmon resonance [19

19. T. Härtling, P. Reichenbach, and L. M. Eng, “Near-field coupling of a single fluorescent molecule and a spherical gold nanoparticle,” Opt. Express 15(20), 12806–12817 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Figure 8
Fig. 8 The lasing photographs of the dye-doped CLC Sample B with Ag nanoparticles and the conventional Sample E at the pumping energy of 4 μJ/pulse.
displays the CLC lasing patterns from Samples B and E on the screens placed at a distance of 7 cm behind the samples. The lasing brightness from Sample B with Ag nanoparticles was clearly greater than that from the conventional Sample E. The lasing beams exhibited a large divergence resulting from weak alignment. The half divergence angle of the lasing beam from Sample B was measured at 10°. The lasing spectra were shown in Fig. 9
Fig. 9 Lasing spectra from Samples B and E.
.

4. Conclusion

This study shows the results of CLC lasing enhancement using surface plasmons. The lasing properties depend significantly on the surface plasmon resonance wavelength of the Ag nanoparticles on the substrate, determined by the size of Ag nanoparticles. The lasing threshold and pumping efficiency were reduced and increased, respectively, as the surface plasmon resonance wavelength of Ag nanoparticles matched the wavelength of the excitation source.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the National Science Council of Taiwan for financially supporting this research under Grant Number NSC 100-2221-E-327-023.

References and links

1.

V. I. Kopp, B. Fan, H. K. M. Vithana, and A. Z. Genack, “Low-threshold lasing at the edge of a photonic stop band in cholesteric liquid crystals,” Opt. Lett. 23(21), 1707–1709 (1998). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

2.

Y. Matsuhisa, Y. Huang, Y. Zhou, S. T. Wu, R. Ozaki, Y. Takao, A. Fujii, and M. Ozaki, “Low-threshold and high efficiency lasing upon band-edge excitation in a cholesteric liquid crystal,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 90(9), 091114 (2007). [CrossRef]

3.

S. M. Morris, A. D. Ford, M. N. Pivnenko, O. Hadeler, and H. J. Coles, “Correlations between the performance characteristics of a liquid crystal laser and the macroscopic material properties,” Phys. Rev. E Stat. Nonlin. Soft Matter Phys. 74(6), 061709 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

4.

S. M. Morris, A. D. Ford, M. N. Pivnenko, and H. J. Coles, “Enhanced emission from liquid-crystal lasers,” J. Appl. Phys. 97(2), 023103 (2005). [CrossRef]

5.

C. Mowatt, S. M. Morris, M. H. Song, T. D. Wilkinson, R. H. Friend, and H. J. Coles, “Comparison of the performance of photonic band-edge liquid crystal lasers using different dyes as the gain medium,” J. Appl. Phys. 107(4), 043101 (2010). [CrossRef]

6.

Y. Zhou, Y. Huang, A. Rapaport, M. Bass, and S. T. Wu, “Doubling the optical efficiency of a chiral liquid crystal laser using a reflector,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 87(23), 231107 (2005). [CrossRef]

7.

Y. Zhou, Y. Huang, and S. T. Wu, “Enhancing cholesteric liquid crystal laser performance using a cholesteric reflector,” Opt. Express 14(9), 3906–3916 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

8.

K. Amemiya, T. Nagata, M. H. Song, Y. Takanishi, K. Ishikawa, S. Nishimura, T. Toyooka, and H. Takezoe, “Enhancement of laser emission intensity in dye-doped cholesteric liquid crystals with single-output window,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 44(6A), 3748–3750 (2005). [CrossRef]

9.

C. Mowatt, S. M. Morris, T. D. Wilkinson, and H. J. Coles, “High slope efficiency liquid crystal lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 97(25), 251109 (2010). [CrossRef]

10.

S. Kalele, A. C. Deshpande, S. B. Singh, and S. K. Kulkarni, “Tuning luminescence intensity of RHO6G dye using silver nanoparticles,” Bull. Mater. Sci. 31(3), 541–544 (2008). [CrossRef]

11.

D. Ancukiewicz, NNIN REU Research Accomplishments (National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network, 2008).

12.

R.-Y. He, G.-L. Chang, H.-L. Wu, C.-H. Lin, K.-C. Chiu, Y.-D. Su, and S.-J. Chen, “Enhanced live cell membrane imaging using surface plasmon-enhanced total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy,” Opt. Express 14(20), 9307–9316 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

13.

J. R. Lakowicz, B. Shen, Z. Gryczynski, S. D’Auria, and I. Gryczynski, “Intrinsic fluorescence from DNA can be enhanced by metallic particles,” Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 286(5), 875–879 (2001). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

14.

A. Kumar, J. Prakash, D. S. Mehta, A. M. Biradar, and W. Haase, “Enhanced photoluminescence in gold nanoparticles doped ferroelectric liquid crystals,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95(2), 023117 (2009). [CrossRef]

15.

S.-H. Chen and J.-Y. Jhong, “Enhanced luminescence efficiency by surface plasmon coupling of Ag nanoparticles in a polymer light-emitting diode,” Opt. Express 19(18), 16843–16850 (2011). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

16.

O. Popov, A. Zilbershtein, and D. Davidov, “Enhanced amplified emission induced by surface plasmons on gold nanoparticles in polymer film random lasers,” Polym. Adv. Technol. 18(9), 751–755 (2007). [CrossRef]

17.

T. Nakamura, T. Hosaka, and S. Adachi, “Gold-nanoparticle-assisted random lasing from powdered GaN,” Opt. Express 19(2), 467–475 (2011). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

18.

K. L. Kelly, E. Coronado, L. L. Zhao, and G. C. Schatz, “The optical properties of metal nanoparticles: the influence of size, shape, and dielectric environment,” J. Phys. Chem. B 107(3), 668–677 (2003). [CrossRef]

19.

T. Härtling, P. Reichenbach, and L. M. Eng, “Near-field coupling of a single fluorescent molecule and a spherical gold nanoparticle,” Opt. Express 15(20), 12806–12817 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

OCIS Codes
(140.3490) Lasers and laser optics : Lasers, distributed-feedback
(160.3710) Materials : Liquid crystals
(240.6680) Optics at surfaces : Surface plasmons

ToC Category:
Lasers and Laser Optics

History
Original Manuscript: August 6, 2012
Revised Manuscript: August 22, 2012
Manuscript Accepted: August 22, 2012
Published: August 24, 2012

Citation
Cheng-Yu Shih and Hui-Chen Yeh, "Surface plasmon-enhanced lasing in dye-doped cholesteric liquid crystals," Opt. Express 20, 20698-20704 (2012)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-20-18-20698


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References

  1. V. I. Kopp, B. Fan, H. K. M. Vithana, and A. Z. Genack, “Low-threshold lasing at the edge of a photonic stop band in cholesteric liquid crystals,” Opt. Lett.23(21), 1707–1709 (1998). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  2. Y. Matsuhisa, Y. Huang, Y. Zhou, S. T. Wu, R. Ozaki, Y. Takao, A. Fujii, and M. Ozaki, “Low-threshold and high efficiency lasing upon band-edge excitation in a cholesteric liquid crystal,” Appl. Phys. Lett.90(9), 091114 (2007). [CrossRef]
  3. S. M. Morris, A. D. Ford, M. N. Pivnenko, O. Hadeler, and H. J. Coles, “Correlations between the performance characteristics of a liquid crystal laser and the macroscopic material properties,” Phys. Rev. E Stat. Nonlin. Soft Matter Phys.74(6), 061709 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  4. S. M. Morris, A. D. Ford, M. N. Pivnenko, and H. J. Coles, “Enhanced emission from liquid-crystal lasers,” J. Appl. Phys.97(2), 023103 (2005). [CrossRef]
  5. C. Mowatt, S. M. Morris, M. H. Song, T. D. Wilkinson, R. H. Friend, and H. J. Coles, “Comparison of the performance of photonic band-edge liquid crystal lasers using different dyes as the gain medium,” J. Appl. Phys.107(4), 043101 (2010). [CrossRef]
  6. Y. Zhou, Y. Huang, A. Rapaport, M. Bass, and S. T. Wu, “Doubling the optical efficiency of a chiral liquid crystal laser using a reflector,” Appl. Phys. Lett.87(23), 231107 (2005). [CrossRef]
  7. Y. Zhou, Y. Huang, and S. T. Wu, “Enhancing cholesteric liquid crystal laser performance using a cholesteric reflector,” Opt. Express14(9), 3906–3916 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  8. K. Amemiya, T. Nagata, M. H. Song, Y. Takanishi, K. Ishikawa, S. Nishimura, T. Toyooka, and H. Takezoe, “Enhancement of laser emission intensity in dye-doped cholesteric liquid crystals with single-output window,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys.44(6A), 3748–3750 (2005). [CrossRef]
  9. C. Mowatt, S. M. Morris, T. D. Wilkinson, and H. J. Coles, “High slope efficiency liquid crystal lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett.97(25), 251109 (2010). [CrossRef]
  10. S. Kalele, A. C. Deshpande, S. B. Singh, and S. K. Kulkarni, “Tuning luminescence intensity of RHO6G dye using silver nanoparticles,” Bull. Mater. Sci.31(3), 541–544 (2008). [CrossRef]
  11. D. Ancukiewicz, NNIN REU Research Accomplishments (National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network, 2008).
  12. R.-Y. He, G.-L. Chang, H.-L. Wu, C.-H. Lin, K.-C. Chiu, Y.-D. Su, and S.-J. Chen, “Enhanced live cell membrane imaging using surface plasmon-enhanced total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy,” Opt. Express14(20), 9307–9316 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  13. J. R. Lakowicz, B. Shen, Z. Gryczynski, S. D’Auria, and I. Gryczynski, “Intrinsic fluorescence from DNA can be enhanced by metallic particles,” Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun.286(5), 875–879 (2001). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  14. A. Kumar, J. Prakash, D. S. Mehta, A. M. Biradar, and W. Haase, “Enhanced photoluminescence in gold nanoparticles doped ferroelectric liquid crystals,” Appl. Phys. Lett.95(2), 023117 (2009). [CrossRef]
  15. S.-H. Chen and J.-Y. Jhong, “Enhanced luminescence efficiency by surface plasmon coupling of Ag nanoparticles in a polymer light-emitting diode,” Opt. Express19(18), 16843–16850 (2011). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  16. O. Popov, A. Zilbershtein, and D. Davidov, “Enhanced amplified emission induced by surface plasmons on gold nanoparticles in polymer film random lasers,” Polym. Adv. Technol.18(9), 751–755 (2007). [CrossRef]
  17. T. Nakamura, T. Hosaka, and S. Adachi, “Gold-nanoparticle-assisted random lasing from powdered GaN,” Opt. Express19(2), 467–475 (2011). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  18. K. L. Kelly, E. Coronado, L. L. Zhao, and G. C. Schatz, “The optical properties of metal nanoparticles: the influence of size, shape, and dielectric environment,” J. Phys. Chem. B107(3), 668–677 (2003). [CrossRef]
  19. T. Härtling, P. Reichenbach, and L. M. Eng, “Near-field coupling of a single fluorescent molecule and a spherical gold nanoparticle,” Opt. Express15(20), 12806–12817 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

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