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Posted: Sep 02, 2011
Ireland's nanoscientists research new technology for increased data storage
(Nanowerk News) CRANN, the Science Foundation Ireland funded research centre based at Trinity College Dublin, today announced a collaboration with Western Digital on the development of new technology to improve data storage. Western Digital is a world leader in the design and manufacture of hard drives.
The next step in magnetic recording technology – heat assisted magnetic recording – will allow 10 times more data to be stored on computer hard drives without increasing their physical size when implemented using jointly developed CRANN and Western Digital innovations. It will drive further increases in disk drive capacity which is the primary method for storage of the mass information generated in all aspects of life.
The new technology that CRANN is researching involves an optimized light delivery system that will allow a laser to focus energy at dimensions below 50 nanometres on a magnetic material - a size of approximately 1,000 times smaller than the width of a typical human hair. This precise focus causes a localised temperature change to occur, which in turn enables data storage at higher densities. The technology is extendible to much smaller spot sizes to enable higher capacity storage. An added benefit of this new implementation is an increased robustness and durability essential to reliable hard drives utilizing heat assisted magnetic recording. The research has resulted in CRANN and Western Digital developing new intellectual property in this area.
Welcoming the collaboration, Dr. Diarmuid O'Brien, Executive Director of CRANN said, "This collaboration with Western Digital is a reflection of CRANN's growing international reputation for quality research and researchers. As more and more people seek to store increased amounts of information, technology improvements are required to make the process more efficient. With this research, Irish scientists can help in providing the solution. Led by Professor John Donegan of TCD's School of Physics with Prof. James Lunney and two research students, this project is exploring science which has the potential to transform the way in which data is stored worldwide."
Established in 2003 by Principal Investigators from the Schools of Physics and Chemistry at Trinity College Dublin in partnership with University College Cork, CRANN is Ireland's leading institute for nanoscience research. Funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), it comprises a team of over 250 researchers.
About the Technology
Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) uses magnetic materials that are stable at much smaller sizes, e.g. iron platinum alloys. These magnetic materials can store single bits – the unit of measurement of information – in a much smaller area without being limited by the current technology used in hard disk storage.
CRANN is researching a novel light delivery system which will allow a laser to focus energy on a magnetic material at dimensions below 50 nanometres. By delivering the laser light at this dimension to the surface of the magnetic film, a localised temperature change occurs which enables data storage at higher densities. 50 nanometres is approximately 1,000 times smaller than the width of a typical human hair.
This research is led by Prof. John Donegan of the School of Physics with Prof. James Lunney and two research students. The research builds upon work on optical nanojets developed within CRANN. The challenge for industry has been to find a mechanism to form a high intensity optical spot, with a size much less than the wavelength of light (800 nm), in a design that is both practical to construct with existing mass-production semiconductor fabrication technology while being efficient and reliable over the lifetime of the device. This is a challenge that CRANN is now closer to meeting.