HGST, formerly Hitachi Storage, now part of Western Digital, has announced a new technology that will double the hard disk drive (HDD) capacity. The patent-pending technology is based upon self-assembling molecules and nanoimprinting which make it possible to create large areas of dense patterns of magnetic islands. These magnetic islands are very small/thin, at 10 billionths of a meter (10 nm) the equivalent of 50 atoms or 100,000 times thinner than a human hair.
Self-assembling molecules use hybrid polymers composed of segments that repel each other. Coated as a thin film on a properly prepared surface, the segments line up into perfect rows. The size of the polymer segments determines the row spacing. After polymer patterns are created, a chip-industry process called line doubling makes the tiny features even smaller, creating two separate lines where one existed before.
The patterns are then converted into templates for nanoimprinting, a precision stamping process that transfers the nanometer-scale pattern onto a chip or disk substrate. A key challenge proved to be preparing the original surface so the block hybrid polymers form their patterns in the radial and circular paths necessary for rotating disk storage.
Unfortunately HGTST hasn’t announced when this technology comes to commercially available drives.