Our ability to store huge volumes of documents, photos, videosand music on our computers and other gadgets is a result ofenormous strides in technology over the years. Scientists from theEU-funded TERAMAGSTOR (‘Terabit magnetic storage technologies’)project are now aiming to push the boundaries even further with ahard disk that has the storage density capacity of one terabit persquare inch (1 Tbit/in²). The project has been funded EUR 3.45million by the ICT-theme of the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme(FP7).
To develop their concept, the researchers used tiny magnetisednanospheres, which at 25 nanometres in diameter, are larger thantraditional grains but smaller than typical storage cells.According to the team, the benefit of using these nanospheres isthat they self-assemble into a regular array, which has thepotential to keep costs low. The nanospheres were then blended withan alcohol-based solution that was placed onto thesubstrate. To make sure the particles were held into place,the scientists then added a magnetic film (an iron-platinum alloythat has attracted considerable industry interest) on top of thesurface to form a kind of magnetic ‘cap’. This cap effectively actsas a magnet (with a north and south pole), and the array can beused as a storage device.
Since spheres that are separated by 25 nanometres are equivalentto storage density of 1 terabit (1 000 gigabits) per square inch,the MAFIN team believes that the same approach with smaller spherescould produce densities that are up to 6 times greater. Beyond therecording medium itself, the researchers also investigatedrecording techniques (they discovered that adjustments will need tobe made to the iron-platinum so that information can be easilyrecorded and read) and experimented with using a magnetic-tip probe(as a replacement to the conventional recording head) to magnetiseand read each of the nanospheres. The three-year TERAMAGSTORproject will conclude in April 2011.
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