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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Head-disk Interface Study for Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) and Plasmonic Nanolithography for Patterned Media

  • Author(s): Xiong, Shaomin
  • Advisor(s): Bogy, David B.
  • Zhang, Xiang
  • et al.

The magnetic storage areal density keeps increasing every year, and magnetic recording-based hard disk drives provide a very cheap and effective solution to the ever increasing demand for data storage. Heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) and bit patterned media have been proposed to increase the magnetic storage density beyond 1 Tb/in square.

In HAMR systems, high magnetic anisotropy materials are recommended to break the superparamagnetic limit for further scaling down the size of magnetic bits. However, the current magnetic transducers are not able to generate strong enough field to switch the magnetic orientations of the high magnetic anisotropy material so the data writing is not able to be achieved. So thermal heating has to be applied to reduce the coercivity for the magnetic writing. To provide the heating, a laser is focused using a near field transducer (NFT) to locally heat a ~(25 nm) spot on the magnetic disk to the Curie temperature, which is ~ 400 C-600 ˚C, to assist in the data writing process. But this high temperature working condition is a great challenge for the traditional head-disk interface (HDI). The disk lubricant can be depleted by evaporation or decomposition. The protective carbon overcoat can be graphitized or oxidized. The surface quality, such as its roughness, can be changed as well. The NFT structure is also vulnerable to degradation under the large number of thermal load cycles. The changes of the HDI under the thermal conditions could significantly reduce the robustness and reliability of the HAMR products.

In bit patterned media systems, instead of using the continuous magnetic granular material, physically isolated magnetic islands are used to store data. The size of the magnetic islands should be about or less than 25 nm in order to achieve the storage areal density beyond 1 Tb/in square. However, the manufacture of the patterned media disks is a great challenge for the current optical lithography technology. Alternative lithography solutions, such as nanoimprint, plasmonic nanolithography, could be potential candidates for the fabrication of patterned disks.

This dissertation focuses mainly on: (1) an experimental study of the HDI under HAMR conditions (2) exploration of a plasmonic nanolithography technology.

In this work, an experimental HAMR testbed (named "Cal stage") is developed to study different aspects of HAMR systems, including the tribological head-disk interface and heat transfer in the head-disk gap. A temperature calibration method based on magnetization decay is proposed to obtain the relationship between the laser power input and temperature increase on the disk. Furthermore, lubricant depletion tests under various laser heating conditions are performed. The effects of laser heating repetitions, laser power and disk speeds on lubricant depletion are discussed. Lubricant depletion under the optical focused laser beam heating and the NFT heating are compared, revealing that thermal gradient plays an important role for lubricant depletion. Lubricant reflow behavior under various conditions is also studied, and a power law dependency of lubricant depletion on laser heating repetitions is obtained from the experimental results. A conductive-AFM system is developed to measure the electrical properties of thin carbon films. The conductivity or resistivity is a good parameter for characterizing the sp2/sp3 components of the carbon films. Different heating modes are applied to study the degradation of the carbon films, including temperature-controlled electric heater heating, focused laser beam heating and NFT heating. It is revealed that the temperature and heating duration significantly affect the degradation of the carbon films. Surface reflectivity and roughness are changed under certain heating conditions. The failure of the NFT structure during slider flying is investigated using our in-house fabricated sliders. In order to extend the lifetime of the NFT, a two-stage heating scheme is proposed and a numerical simulation has verified the feasibility of this new scheme. The heat dissipated around the NFT structure causes a thermal protrusion. There is a chance for contact to occur between the protrusion and disk which can result in a failure of the NFT. A design method to combine both TFC protrusion and laser induced NFT protrusion is proposed to reduce the fly-height modulation and chance of head-disk contact.

Finally, an integrated plasmonic nanolithography machine is introduced to fabricate the master template for patterned disks. The plasmonic nanolithography machine uses a flying slider with a plasmonic lens to expose the thermal resist on a spinning wafer. The system design, optimization and integration have been performed over the past few years. Several sub-systems of the plasmonic nanolithography machine, such as the radial and circumferential direction position control, high speed pattern generation, are presented in this work. The lithography results are shown as well.

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