Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Computer Memory Could Increase Fivefold From UT Research

Abstract:
The storage capacity of hard disk drives could increase by a factor of five thanks to processes developed by chemists and engineers at The University of Texas at Austin.

Computer Memory Could Increase Fivefold From UT Research

Austin, TX | Posted on November 14th, 2012

The researchers' technique, which relies on self-organizing substances known as block copolymers, was described this week in an article in Science. It's also being given a real-world test run in collaboration with HGST, one of the world's leading innovators in disk drives.

"In the last few decades there's been a steady, exponential increase in the amount of information that can be stored on memory devices, but things have now reached a point where we're running up against physical limits," said C. Grant Willson, professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the College of Natural Sciences and the Rashid Engineering Regents Chair in the Cockrell School of Engineering.

With current production methods, zeroes and ones are written as magnetic dots on a continuous metal surface. The closer together the dots are, the more information can be stored in the same area. But that tactic has been pretty much maxed out. The dots have now gotten so close together that any further increase in proximity would cause them to be affected by the magnetic fields of their neighboring dots and become unstable.

"The industry is now at about a terabit of information per square inch," said Willson, who co-authored the paper with chemical engineering professor Christopher Ellison and a team of graduate and undergraduate students. "If we moved the dots much closer together with the current method, they would begin to flip spontaneously now and then, and the archival properties of hard disk drives would be lost. Then you're in a world of trouble. Can you imagine if one day your bank account info just changed spontaneously?"

There's a quirk in the physics, however. If the dots are isolated from one another, with no magnetic material between them, they can be pushed closer together without destabilization.

This is where block copolymers come in. At room temperature, coated on a disk surface, they don't look like much. But if they're designed in the right way, and given the right prod, they'll self-assemble into highly regular patterns of dots or lines. If the surface onto which they're coated already has some guideposts etched into it, the dots or lines will form into precisely the patterns needed for a hard disk drive.

This process, which is called directed self-assembly (DSA), was pioneered by engineers at the University of Wisconsin and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

When Willson, Ellison and their students began working with directed self-assembly, the best anyone in the field had done was to get the dots small enough to double the storage density of disk drives. The challenge has been to shrink the dots further and to find processing methods that are compatible with high-throughput production.

The team has made great progress on a number of fronts. They've synthesized block copolymers that self-assemble into the smallest dots in the world. In some cases they form into the right, tight patterns in less than a minute, which is also a record.

"I am kind of amazed that our students have been able to do what they've done," said Willson. "When we started, for instance, I was hoping that we could get the processing time under 48 hours. We're now down to about 30 seconds. I'm not even sure how it is possible to do it that fast. It doesn't seem reasonable, but once in a while you get lucky."

Most significantly, the team has designed a special top coat that goes over the block copolymers while they are self-assembling.

"I've been fortunate enough to be involved in the experimental work of the top coat project from its inception all the way to our final results," said Leon Dean, a senior chemical engineering major and one of the authors on the Science paper. "We've had to develop an innovative spin-on top coat for neutralizing the surface energy at the top interface of a block copolymer film."

This top coat allows the polymers to achieve the right orientation relative to the plane of the surface simply by heating.

"The patterns of super small dots can now self-assemble in vertical or perpendicular patterns at smaller dimensions than ever before," said Thomas Albrecht, manager of patterned media technology at HGST. "That makes them easier to etch into the surface of a master plate for nanoimprinting, which is exactly what we need to make patterned media for higher capacity disk drives."

Willson, Ellison and their students are currently working with HGST to see whether these advances can be adapted to their products and integrated into a mainstream manufacturing process.

Other industry collaborators are Nissan Chemical Company, which partially funded the research, and Molecular Imprints, an Austin-based company co-founded by Willson that is a pioneer in nanoimprint lithography.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Daniel Oppenheimer
College of Natural Sciences
512 745 3353


C. Grant Willson
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
(512) 471-4342

Copyright © University of Texas at Austin

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

Scientists test nanoparticle drug delivery in dogs with osteosarcoma July 26th, 2016

Nanometrics Reports Second Quarter 2016 Financial Results July 26th, 2016

Ultrasensitive sensor using N-doped graphene July 26th, 2016

The NanoWizardŽ AFM from JPK is applied for interdisciplinary research at the University of South Australia for applications including smart wound healing and how plants can protect themselves from toxins July 26th, 2016

Possible Futures

Scientists test nanoparticle drug delivery in dogs with osteosarcoma July 26th, 2016

Ultrasensitive sensor using N-doped graphene July 26th, 2016

Integration of novel materials with silicon chips makes new 'smart' devices possible July 25th, 2016

Accurate design of large icosahedral protein nanocages pushes bioengineering boundaries: Scientists used computational methods to build ten large, two-component, co-assembling icosahedral protein complexes the size of small virus coats July 25th, 2016

Memory Technology

Making magnets flip like cats at room temperature: Heusler alloy NiMnSb could prove valuable as a new material for digital information processing and storage July 25th, 2016

Research team led by NUS scientists develop plastic flexible magnetic memory device: Novel technique to implant high-performance magnetic memory chip on a flexible plastic surface without compromising performance July 21st, 2016

The birth of quantum holography: Making holograms of single light particles! July 21st, 2016

Smallest hard disk to date writes information atom by atom July 20th, 2016

Self Assembly

Accurate design of large icosahedral protein nanocages pushes bioengineering boundaries: Scientists used computational methods to build ten large, two-component, co-assembling icosahedral protein complexes the size of small virus coats July 25th, 2016

WSU researchers develop shape-changing 'smart' material: Heat, light stimulate self-assembly July 4th, 2016

Building a smart cardiac patch: 'Bionic' cardiac patch could one day monitor and respond to cardiac problems June 28th, 2016

Self-assembling icosahedral protein designed: Self-assembling icosahedral protein designed June 22nd, 2016

Discoveries

Scientists test nanoparticle drug delivery in dogs with osteosarcoma July 26th, 2016

Ultrasensitive sensor using N-doped graphene July 26th, 2016

The NanoWizardŽ AFM from JPK is applied for interdisciplinary research at the University of South Australia for applications including smart wound healing and how plants can protect themselves from toxins July 26th, 2016

Accurate design of large icosahedral protein nanocages pushes bioengineering boundaries: Scientists used computational methods to build ten large, two-component, co-assembling icosahedral protein complexes the size of small virus coats July 25th, 2016

Announcements

Scientists test nanoparticle drug delivery in dogs with osteosarcoma July 26th, 2016

Nanometrics Reports Second Quarter 2016 Financial Results July 26th, 2016

Ultrasensitive sensor using N-doped graphene July 26th, 2016

The NanoWizardŽ AFM from JPK is applied for interdisciplinary research at the University of South Australia for applications including smart wound healing and how plants can protect themselves from toxins July 26th, 2016

Printing/Lithography/Inkjet/Inks

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

Perovskite solar cells surpass 20 percent efficiency: EPFL researchers are pushing the limits of perovskite solar cell performance by exploring the best way to grow these crystals June 13th, 2016

'On-the-fly' 3-D print system prints what you design, as you design it June 1st, 2016

Physicists create first metamaterial with rewritable magnetic ordering May 23rd, 2016

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







Car Brands
Buy website traffic