Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Nanospheres stretch limits of hard disk storage

Abstract:
A new magnetic recording medium made up of tiny nanospheres has been devised by European researchers. The technology may lead to hard disks able to store more than a thousand billion bits of information in a square inch.

Nanospheres stretch limits of hard disk storage

EU | Posted on June 15th, 2010

With consumer PCs now being sold with hard disks of a terabyte or more - enough to record more than two years of music - storage capacity seems to be expanding without limit. But the limits are there and industry insiders know that they are approaching fast.

Present-day hard disks record information on a ferromagnetic layer. The layer is made up of grains about 7 nanometres across and each ‘bit' of information is contained in a magnetised cell covering perhaps 60 to 80 grains. When the magnetic field is pointing one way a ‘1' is stored and when it points the opposite way a ‘0' is stored.

One way of packing information on to a disk would be to make the cells smaller. But with fewer grains per cell, the signal to noise ratio rises and with it the probability of a bit being misread.

The obvious answer is to use a recording medium with smaller grains, but then thermal stability problems arise. "Over time, if the thermal stability is not large enough, the magnetic orientation will flip to the opposite direction so it will lose its information," says Manfred Albrecht of the Chemnitz University of Technology.


Nanospheres
He favours a completely new approach using techniques from nanotechnology to construct a ‘patterned' recording surface made up not of irregular grains but of purpose-made magnetic cells. "The problem now is how can you produce these nanostructures on a large scale at low cost?"

Albrecht coordinated the EU-funded MAFIN project which sought to build regular arrays of cells from tiny magnetised nanospheres. The spheres are made of silica and are commercially available in a range of sizes. After testing many different sizes the MAFIN team settled on spheres 25 nanometres in diameter, bigger than conventional grains but smaller than normal storage cells.

The attraction of using nanospheres is that they will assemble themselves into a regular array. The nanospheres are mixed with an alcohol-based solution that is dropped on to the substrate. As the alcohol evaporates the spheres are left in a regular pattern.

"We then deposited a magnetic film on top of the particles to form a magnetic ‘cap'," Albrecht explains. "And if you do it right then this magnetic cap acts as a single magnet, with a north and a south pole, and the array can be used as a storage device."

Whether the cap is magnetised with a north or south pole upwards determines whether it is storing a ‘1' or a ‘0'.

Iron-platinum alloy
The magnetic film is an iron-platinum alloy that has already attracted interest within the magnetic storage industry. It is coated on to the nanospheres by magnetron-sputter deposition. As silica itself is non-magnetic, each cap is isolated from its neighbours and can hold its magnetisation well.

Self-assembly of the nanospheres is guided by pre-patterning of the silicate substrate by x-ray lithography to create tiny pits for the spheres to settle into.

"I believe that self-assembly-based approaches have the largest potential because they are not expensive," Albrecht says. "They are very low cost."

A spacing of 25 nanometres between spheres is equivalent to a storage density of one terabit (1000 gigabits) per square inch. Using the same approach with smaller spheres researchers should be able to attain densities up to six times higher.

As well as looking at the recording medium, MAFIN researchers have also investigated recording techniques. Iron-platinum is harder to magnetise than conventional media, so modifications will be needed to allow information to be easily recorded and read.

Opportunities for industry
The team investigated using a probe with a fine magnetic tip to magnetise and read each of the nanospheres instead of a conventional recording head.

MAFIN finished in May 2009 but its work has carried over into a successor EU project, TERAMAGSTOR. While MAFIN was concerned with a proof of concept, the new project aims to demonstrate a hard disk with a storage density exceeding one terabit per square inch.

Albrecht sees opportunities for European industry to develop the manufacturing processes that new, nanostructured storage media will require. "In Europe we don't have a real industry that produces hard drives," he says. "It's all in Asia and the USA. But we have manufacturers of deposition tools and expertise in sputter technology."

The glass substrates of conventional hard disks will not be suitable for the high-temperature processes needed to deposit alloys, so European companies with know-how in ceramic materials may also have a role to play.

MAFIN received funding from FET - Open initiative of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme for research.

####

For more information, please click here

Copyright © ICT Results

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Manchester scientists tie the tightest knot ever achieved January 13th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Chemistry on the edge: Experiments at Berkeley Lab confirm that structural defects at the periphery are key in catalyst function January 13th, 2017

Recreating conditions inside stars with compact lasers: Scientists offer a new path to creating the extreme conditions found in stars, using ultra-short laser pulses irradiating nanowires January 12th, 2017

New laser based on unusual physics phenomenon could improve telecommunications, computing January 12th, 2017

Possible Futures

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Nanoscale Modifications can be used to Engineer Electrical Contacts for Nanodevices January 13th, 2017

Academic/Education

Oxford Nanoimaging report on how the Nanoimager, a desktop microscope delivering single molecule, super-resolution performance, is being applied at the MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology & Infection November 22nd, 2016

The University of Applied Sciences in Upper Austria uses Deben tensile stages as an integral part of their computed tomography research and testing facility October 18th, 2016

Enterprise In Space Partners with Sketchfab and 3D Hubs for NewSpace Education October 13th, 2016

New Agricultural Research Center Debuts at UCF October 12th, 2016

Chip Technology

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Nanoscale Modifications can be used to Engineer Electrical Contacts for Nanodevices January 13th, 2017

New laser based on unusual physics phenomenon could improve telecommunications, computing January 12th, 2017

Memory Technology

Investigations of the skyrmion Hall effect reveal surprising results: One step further towards the application of skyrmions in spintronic devices December 28th, 2016

New material with ferroelectricity and ferromagnetism may lead to better computer memory December 21st, 2016

Characterization of magnetic nanovortices simplified December 21st, 2016

New technology of ultrahigh density optical storage researched at Kazan University: The ever-growing demand for storage devices stimulates scientists to find new ways of improving the performance of existing technologies November 30th, 2016

Self Assembly

Manchester scientists tie the tightest knot ever achieved January 13th, 2017

Captured on video: DNA nanotubes build a bridge between 2 molecular posts: Research may lead to new lines of direct communication with cells January 9th, 2017

Researchers fabricate high performance Cu(OH)2 supercapacitor electrodes December 29th, 2016

Nanoscale 'conversations' create complex, multi-layered structures: New technique leverages controlled interactions across surfaces to create self-assembled materials with unprecedented complexity December 22nd, 2016

Announcements

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Nanoscale Modifications can be used to Engineer Electrical Contacts for Nanodevices January 13th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project