By Matthew Dublin
Researchers at Signapore’s Institute of Material Research and Engineering (IMRE) and National University of Singapore are using table salt to increase the data recording density of hard disks.
While conventional hard disks use randomly distributed nanoscopic magnetic grains to store up 0.5 terabits of data, the research team used nanopatterning to tightly pack the arrays of magnetic bits to store up to 3.3 terabits/in2 of information.
The team discovered that by adding sodium chloride to a developer solution used in existing high-resolution e-beam lithography processes used to create super fine nano-sized structures, they were able to produce highly defined nanostructures down to 4.5 nanometers half pitch, without the need for expensive equipment upgrades.
Comparison of different bit densities:
What this could mean down the road is that hard disk drives currently capable of storing 1 Terabyte (of data today could, could eventually hold 6 TB of information in the same form factor.
“What we have shown is that bits can be patterned more densely together by reducing the number of processing steps”, says Joel Yang, the IMRE scientist who heads the project. “In addition to making the bits, we demonstrated that they can be used to store data.”
This ‘salty developer solution’ approach was actually invented by Yang when he was a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.