Invention spotlight: magnetic recording media

JP Wang

With the exploding popularity of cloud storage, millions of users are uploading data and existing hard drive servers are nearing their limits. Tech giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft require veritable warehouses, containing rows upon rows of servers to house their users’ data. These state-of-the-art media can store up to 100 million bits of information per square inch. But as their capacity grows, these servers are becoming unwieldy by occupying space, generating heat, and consuming vast quantities of energy.

Distinguished McKnight professor Jian-Ping Wang was perplexed by the existing storage limits of hard disc media. So, he set out to increase storage capacity while shrinking the physical size of the medium. His team demonstrated the world’s first exchange-coupled composite disk media that doubled the storage capacity of magnetic media — from 500 gigabyte per square inch to one terabyte. And he doesn’t plan to stop there.

Wang and his students recently invented and experimentally demonstrated a nano-patterning process, which addresses the feasibility of fabricating a heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) media, targeting 5 terabyte per square inch areal density. The magnetic storage technology could change the face of the computer industry, from gaming, to 3D televisions, to cloud storage. Higher recording density could mean smaller storage media that consume less power.

“Because of the huge power consumption required to operate millions of hard disk drives, the server stations must be built near power plants,” says Wang. “If this technology could be implemented, imagine how much energy we could save.”

Since 2003, Wang has garnered more than $9 million in research funding as well as earned $2.1 million worth of industry-donated equipment to support his work on biomedical sensors, spintronics, and more.

Related links:
Miracle magnetic materials: Jian-Ping Wang

Post by Bridget Aymar

Originally published on Business @ the U of M.