HGST, formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, has combined two nanotechnologies of self-assembling molecules and nanolithography to potentially enable bit-patterned media to become a cost-effective means of increasing data densities in magnetic HDDs before the end of the decade.
HGST's process involves producing magnetic islands that are only 50 atoms wide, or about 10 nanometers, using molecular self-assembly. After that, the company claims that they can combine these magnetic islands with nanolithography techniques to create reliable, highly dense storage. The self-assembling molecules are prevented from clumping together due to the presence of additional co-polymers that actually make the molecules repel each other. When this mixture is applied as an extremely thin film to a specially treated surface, the self-assembled molecules line up into perfect rows.
With this polymer pattern in place, it is then converted into templates for nanoimprinting, a precision stamping process that transfers the nanometer-scale pattern onto a chip or disk substrate. The bit density of HGST's polymer pattern is double that of today's HDDs and the company claims that it has shown reliable storage capabilities. HGST believes its processes can be refined to produce even denser storage, more than doubling their capacity in the future.
There is no concrete roadmap for this new process, so this new technology is still work-in-progress; however, the press release did quote Mr. Currie Munce, vice president, HGST Research who said that this current development may "...become a cost-effective means of increasing data densities in magnetic hard disk drives before the end of the decade."