The Trinity College based Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices is currently working with Western Digital on maximising the storage space of the traditional hard drive.
The areal density or amount of data that can be stored on a square inch of disk (platter) has been increasing every year. For example, 10 years ago, if you bought a standard desktop PC it would probably have come with an 80GB drive. Now, a standard PC will have anything from a 500GB or 1TB hard drive installed as standard.
The last great breakthrough in achieving even greater hard drive densities has been the use of tunnelling magneto-resistive heads with additional heater coils to improve storage efficiency and the recording of data to the platters.
The team at Trinity are now taking this technology one step forward. They are deploying a laser to heat a tiny area of the drive (1000 times smaller than the width of a human hair). By using a laser to increase the temperature of the magnetic material – data can be stored at higher densities with improved read/write functions.
It is great to see such revolutionary heat assisted recording technology which has the potential to change hard drive design being developed on our own doorstep.