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

Basque researchers turn light upside down February 23rd, 2018

Stiffness matters February 23rd, 2018

Imaging individual flexible DNA 'building blocks' in 3-D: Berkeley Lab researchers generate first images of 129 DNA structures February 22nd, 2018

'Memtransistor' brings world closer to brain-like computing: Combined memristor and transistor can process information and store memory with one device February 22nd, 2018

Possible Futures

Basque researchers turn light upside down February 23rd, 2018

Stiffness matters February 23rd, 2018

Developing reliable quantum computers February 22nd, 2018

Imaging individual flexible DNA 'building blocks' in 3-D: Berkeley Lab researchers generate first images of 129 DNA structures February 22nd, 2018

Memory Technology

'Memtransistor' brings world closer to brain-like computing: Combined memristor and transistor can process information and store memory with one device February 22nd, 2018

New method enables high-resolution measurements of magnetism February 7th, 2018

Quantum cocktail provides insights on memory control: Experiments based on atoms in a shaken artificial crystal offer insight that might help in the development of future data-storage devices January 26th, 2018

Thanks for the memory: NIST takes a deep look at memristors January 20th, 2018

Self Assembly

Liquid crystal molecules form nano rings: Quantized self-assembly enables design of materials with novel properties February 7th, 2018

Particle size matters for porous building blocks: Rice University scientists find porous nanoparticles get tougher under pressure, but not when assembled December 19th, 2017

Physicists gain new insights into nanosystems with spherical confinement: Enormous potential for the targeted delivery of pharmaceutical agents and the creation of tailored nanoparticles July 27th, 2017

Oddball enzyme provides easy path to synthetic biomaterials May 17th, 2017

Discoveries

Basque researchers turn light upside down February 23rd, 2018

Histology in 3-D: New staining method enables Nano-CT imaging of tissue samples February 22nd, 2018

Developing reliable quantum computers February 22nd, 2018

Imaging individual flexible DNA 'building blocks' in 3-D: Berkeley Lab researchers generate first images of 129 DNA structures February 22nd, 2018

Announcements

Basque researchers turn light upside down February 23rd, 2018

Stiffness matters February 23rd, 2018

Histology in 3-D: New staining method enables Nano-CT imaging of tissue samples February 22nd, 2018

Developing reliable quantum computers February 22nd, 2018

Printing/Lithography/Inkjet/Inks/Bio-printing

Basque researchers turn light upside down February 23rd, 2018

A simple new approach to plastic solar cells: Osaka University researchers intelligently design new highly efficient organic solar cells based on amorphous electronic materials with potential for easy printing January 28th, 2018

Engineers develop flexible, water-repellent graphene circuits for washable electronics January 24th, 2018

Printing Flexible Graphene Supercapacitors December 1st, 2017

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project