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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > Kos Galatsis > Terabytes, Imprint, Google and Oil

Kos Galatsis
Chief Operating Officer
FENA and WIN Centers, UCLA

This month I have been left winded by numerous reported advances. Hitachi quadrupling hard disk capacity to terabytes, Toshiba validating imprint lithography technology for 22 nm node CMOS devices, Google hitting $700 and oil cracking through the $95 a barrel mark. Its all part of the nanotechnology equation - I'm spinning.

October 31st, 2007

Terabytes, Imprint, Google and Oil

Hitachi this month announced they have developed the world's smallest read-head technology for hard disk drives, which will quadruple current storage capacity limits to over four terabytes on a desktop hard drive. The advance comes as researchers reduced existing recording heads by more than a factor of two to achieve new heads in the 30-50 nanometer (nm) range. From these sizes, you can immediately see that hard disk memories have a lot to do with nanotechnology. The stability achieved from the single magnetic domain and its collective behavior has enabled the long term success of magnetic media storage. The smallest single domain size is predominantly dependant on the materials magnetic stability with respect to the thermal bath. With decreasing volume the magnetic anisotropy energy per domain responsible for preserving the directionality of the magnetic moment becomes comparable to the thermal energy. When this happens, the thermal fluctuations induce random flipping of the magnetic moment, and with time, causing the loss of stable magnetic order and hence becoming superparamagnetic. For Co, the superparamagnetic limit is about 10 nm and for FePt, which is known as a "high Ku material" it is about 3nm, potentially possible to achieve densities >10E12 bits/cm2. Practically though, the minimum size is dependant on read head technology and lithography technology. Hence the excitement over Hitachi's advancement.

Respectively, another important advance is the news of Toshiba validating the use of imprint lithography technology for 22 nm node CMOS devices. Toshiba was able to print 18 nm isolated features and 24 nm dense features with <1 nm critical dimension uniformity and <2 nm line edge roughness. This is one of the first demonstration showing lithographic capability for 32 nm and below which is welcome news to the semiconductor industry and not to mention Molecular Imprints who manufactured the instrument Toshiba used for validation.

As for Google, it's the classic "should-of/could-of" story topping the $700 mark.
Its linkage with nanotechnology? More than you think. It would eat up the terabyte disks Hitachi will provide to the market with their new 30nm read head, will benefit from their investment position in Nanosolar in a double play as skyrocketing oil prices top $95 a barrel driving the alternative energy wagon faster and faster, will lead chip software programming technology for high-performance, multicore and parallel processors made from 45nm CMOS technology via their acquisition of Peakstream and lastly will pop a few bucks from offsetting 30% of their electricity bill as their polysilicon solar panel investment play will pay for itself in 7.5 years. Talk about stimulating the "nano"ecomomy.

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