Graphene can be used for ultra-high density hard disk drives

It stores ten times more data.

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Due to the exponentially increasing amount of data, there is a need to increase areal storage densities beyond ~1 Tb/in2. This requires the thickness of carbon overcoats (COCs) to be <2 nm. However, friction, wear, corrosion, and thermal stability are critical concerns below 2 nm, limiting current technology and restricting COC integration with heat-assisted magnetic recording technology (HAMR).

In a new study by the University of Cambridge, scientists used graphene for ultra-high density hard disk drives (HDD). Graphene enables a two-fold reduction in friction and provides better corrosion and wear than state-of-the-art solutions.

Scientists transferred graphene onto hard disks made of iron-platinum as the magnetic recording layer and tried Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR). Existing COCs don’t perform at these high temperatures, yet graphene does. Subsequently, graphene, combined with HAMR, can outflank current HDDs, giving an exceptional data density higher than ten terabytes for each square inch.

Dr. Anna Ott from the Cambridge Graphene Centre, one of the co-authors of this study, said, “Demonstrating that graphene can serve as a protective coating for conventional hard disk drives and that it can withstand HAMR conditions is a significant result. This will further push the development of novel high areal density hard disk drives.”

Professor Andrea C. Ferrari, Director of the Cambridge Graphene Centre, added“This work showcases the excellent mechanical, corrosion, and wear resistance properties of graphene for ultra-high storage density magnetic media. Considering that in 2020, around 1 billion terabytes of fresh HDD storage was produced, these results indicate a route for mass application of graphene in cutting-edge technologies.”

The study was conducted in collaboration with teams at the University of Exeter, India, Switzerland, Singapore, and the US.

Journal Reference:
  1. Dwivedi et al. Graphene Overcoats for Ultra-High Storage Density Magnetic Media. Nature Communications 12, 2854 (2021), DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22687-y