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

Ultracold atom waves may shed light on rogue ocean killers: Rice quantum experiments probe underlying physics of rogue ocean waves April 27th, 2017

Looking for the quantum frontier: Beyond classical computing without fault-tolerance? April 27th, 2017

Metal nanoparticles induced visible-light photocatalysis: Mechanisms, applications, ways of promoting catalytic activity and outlook April 27th, 2017

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2017 Second Quarter Results April 27th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Ultracold atom waves may shed light on rogue ocean killers: Rice quantum experiments probe underlying physics of rogue ocean waves April 27th, 2017

Metal nanoparticles induced visible-light photocatalysis: Mechanisms, applications, ways of promoting catalytic activity and outlook April 27th, 2017

Graphene holds up under high pressure: Used in filtration membranes, ultrathin material could help make desalination more productive April 24th, 2017

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Possible Futures

Looking for the quantum frontier: Beyond classical computing without fault-tolerance? April 27th, 2017

Video captures bubble-blowing battery in action: Researchers propose how bubbles form, could lead to smaller lithium-air batteries April 26th, 2017

California Research Alliance by BASF establishes more than 25 research projects in three years April 26th, 2017

Geoffrey Beach: Drawn to explore magnetism: Materials researcher is working on the magnetic memory of the future April 25th, 2017

Academic/Education

California Research Alliance by BASF establishes more than 25 research projects in three years April 26th, 2017

SUNY Polytechnic Institute Announces Total of 172 Teams Selected to Compete in Solar in Your Community Challenge: Teams from 40 states, plus Washington, DC, 2 Territories, and 4 American Indian Reservations, Will Deploy Solar in Underserved Communities April 20th, 2017

Rice crew revved for Nanocar Race: Nanocar creator James Tour and team take on international competition with single-molecule marvel April 20th, 2017

The Catholic University of Rome uses the JPK NanoWizard® AFM & CellHesion® systems to understand how cells sense and respond to mechanical stimuli April 5th, 2017

Chip Technology

Geoffrey Beach: Drawn to explore magnetism: Materials researcher is working on the magnetic memory of the future April 25th, 2017

'Neuron-reading' nanowires could accelerate development of drugs for neurological diseases April 12th, 2017

Nanometrics to Announce First Quarter Financial Results on May 2, 2017 April 11th, 2017

AIM Photonics Presents Cutting-Edge Integrated Photonics Technology Developments to Packed House at OFC 2017, the Optical Networking and Communication Conference & Exhibition April 11th, 2017

Memory Technology

Geoffrey Beach: Drawn to explore magnetism: Materials researcher is working on the magnetic memory of the future April 25th, 2017

New ultrafast flexible and transparent memory devices could herald new era of electronics April 1st, 2017

Information storage with a nanoscale twist: Discovery of a novel rotational force inside magnetic vortices makes it easier to design ultrahigh capacity disk drives March 28th, 2017

Smart multi-layered magnetic material acts as an electric switch: New study reveals characteristic of islands of magnetic metals between vacuum gaps, displaying tunnelling electric current March 1st, 2017

Self Assembly

Nanotubes that build themselves April 14th, 2017

Nanocages for gold particles: what is happening inside? March 16th, 2017

Most Complex Nanoparticle Crystal Ever Made by Design: Possible applications include controlling light, capturing pollutants, delivering therapeutics March 2nd, 2017

Molecular phenomenon discovered by advanced NMR facility: Cutting edge technology has shown a molecule self-assembling into different forms when passing between solution state to solid state, and back again - a curious phenomenon in science - says research by the University of Wa February 22nd, 2017

Announcements

Ultracold atom waves may shed light on rogue ocean killers: Rice quantum experiments probe underlying physics of rogue ocean waves April 27th, 2017

Looking for the quantum frontier: Beyond classical computing without fault-tolerance? April 27th, 2017

Metal nanoparticles induced visible-light photocatalysis: Mechanisms, applications, ways of promoting catalytic activity and outlook April 27th, 2017

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2017 Second Quarter Results April 27th, 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