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Study of Dynamics and Nanoscale Heat Transfer of Head Disk Interface in Hard Disk Drives


Since its introduction in 1956, hard disk drives have become one of the dominant products in the industry of data storage. The capacity of the hard disk drives must keep evolving to store the exploding data generated in the era of big data. This demand pushes the development of technologies including heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), microwave assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) and bit-patterned media (BPM) to increase the areal density beyond 1Tb/in2. In the development of these technologies, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the dynamics and nanoscale heat transfer behavior across the head-disk interface.

In this dissertation, dynamics and nano-scale heat transfer in the head disk interface are discussed. Experimental study of nano-scale heat transfer is conducted with the specifically designed static touchdown experiment. Simulation strategy that incorporates the wave-based phonon conduction theory was also developed.

In the flying condition, correlation between the temperature and head disk spacing was found at both passive flying stage and modulation stage. When the flying height increases due to either disk surface microwaviness or contact induced modulation, head temperature will increase, with a slight time delay, indicating the existence of a cooling effect as the head approaches the disk.

The static touchdown experiment, which decouples the complicated air bearing from the nano-scale interface was further designed and performed. The heat transfer behavior across a closing nano-scale gap between head and disk was observed and measured. Experimental and simulation results showed general agreement with the theoretical predictions of the wave based theory for radiation and phonon conduction. The effect of different factors including humidity, air pressure, lubricant layer and disk substrate in the static touchdown experiment were also studied separately.

Furthermore, the dynamics of HAMR condition was studied with waveguide heads. The laser induced protrusion was found to be around 1~2 nm in height.

The findings of this dissertation could be applied to future HAMR head/media design, and the static touchdown experiment could be potentially improved to be a new approach to measure material conduction coefficient and emissivity with high special resolution.

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