The storage density of computer hard drives is increasing rapidly, and researchers have tried to optimize the concept of magnetic data storage, along with the materials used for storing information.
Researchers from Forschungszentrum Rossendorf in Germany and the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain have found a different approach that could help to increase storage density by an order of magnitude.
The new concept would allow the production of very small magnetic zones on a material by irradiating the surface with highly focused ion beams. The irradiated domains expose magnetic properties. Since the beam can be extremely focused, the method can generate magnetic domains as small as 5nm to 10nm. The ion beam has a relatively low power and thus, there is no impact on the surface of the material, remainng flat enough to be used on a hard disk drive.
The researchers have not used any actual hard disk prototype for this method. They said that it could be implemented in hard disk drives as soon as they improve the storage stability of the material.
The technique would enable manufacturers to tenfold the magnetic storage density if successfully adapted to industrial processes. However, the researchers
applied a series of magnetic "areas" on the surface of the material in their experiments. This serial writing method would be very slow to be implemented in hard disks.
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