The ever advancing digitization and technical development are constantly increasing the demand for storage options. High-resolution videos and first-class animated computer games now require so much space that just a few years ago they would not have fit on a single hard drive. With this in mind, researchers at the University of Cambridge have now made an important discovery. They found that the use of graphs in cooperation with other technologies can increase the storage density tenfold. At least in theory, hard disks with a capacity of more than 100 Tbytes would be possible. Specifically, the researchers first experimented with the coating. This is primarily intended to avoid damage. So far, most manufacturers have relied on a carbon layer here. The Cambridge researchers have now found that graphene can also be used. This in turn has an important advantage.
The thickness of the protective layer can be reduced significantly
Graphene can be applied with a thickness of only one nanometer. In the case of carbon, however, 2.5 to 3 nanometers are required for technical reasons. At first glance, this doesn’t seem like a particularly big difference. In fact, this enables a higher recording density because the write and read head can move closer to the central magnetic disk. How big the advantage actually is depends not least on the storage technology used. According to the researchers, graphs are particularly suitable for energy-based recording techniques.
One example of this is the so-called Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR). The magnetic particles are heated to 450 degrees Celsius using a laser. This reduces the required magnetic field strength and thereby also increases the storage density. The combination of graphene layer and HAMR storage process then ensures the significantly increased storage capacity.
The step to series production takes time
Even better values could also be achieved with the help of bit-patterned magnetic recording (BPMR). Here the bits are forced into tiny islands through targeted indentations. This approach could also be combined with graphene coating. The researchers have also built and tested the first hard drives in the laboratory. Based on this, they also published instructions for the required production setup. Potential buyers will still have to be patient. Because the researchers seem to have made an important breakthrough. At the same time, the crucial work is only now beginning. Because the prototypes in the laboratory now have to be turned into a product suitable for series production. Past experience shows that this process is quite time-consuming.