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Fig. 3 shows a laser head heating the disc while lubricant vapor bombards the depleted area

Nanotubes stacked in a thin layer to create a lubricant
Up to 10X the capacity of current harddrives can be achieved

Seagate has submitted a patent for a technology it invented that could give current hard drive technology a few more years of life. Using nanotube technology, Seagate plans to bring a hard drive's read and write head even closer to the spinning platter than it already is today. Because of the mechanics of the way hard drives store data, the closer the read and write head is to the patter, the more information can be recorded.

Earlier this year, we started to see hard drives using perpendicular technology make their way into the market. The technology is one of those inventions that changes the fundamental way information is recorded onto disk. Without going into too much background information, perpendicular recording techniques have given new life to hard drives. Despite this however, storage demands continue to increase as consumers find more uses for data-focused consumer electronics such as portable video players, audio players and other mediums.

Using nanotubes, Seagate's patent involves coating the surface of a hard drive's platter with an extremely thin layer of extremely tough lubricant. The lubricant is designed to protect the actual magnetic medium, which in itself ranges from 2 to 50nm in thickness. Using this lubricant, Seagate will lower the read/write head to the point where it actually may come into contact with the platter. Seagate will also be introducing a heating mechanism such as a laser, which will heat up a small area of the platter allowing magnetic particles to be arranged more precisely -- thus allowing greater data densities. The laser itself will be positioned adjacent to the read and write head.

Since the lubricant layer is so thin however, the area that was heated will have some of the lubricant evaporated. To combat this, a reservoir that contains lubricant made of hundreds of thousands to millions of nanotubes is contained within the hard drive. Using precise pressure, the lubricant is evaporated into a vapor, and the vapor then deposits itself onto the area where there was depleted lubricant. According to Seagate, the vapor lubricant will take no more than a single disc rotation to complete the filling processes. The patent also says that hard drives will contain enough nanotube lubricant to last anywhere from 5 to 10 years. From Seagate's patent:

The saturated reservoir 60 of disc lubricant may be placed at any suitable location within the disc enclosure 12. The reservoir 60 delivers a predetermined vapor pressure of lubricant inside the enclosure. Lubricant molecules thereby enter the gas phase and bombard the disc surface with a known rate principally determined by the vapor pressure. A multilayer surface film of lubricant is therefore built up from the gas phase. Equilibrium is then established between the gas phase lubricant molecules and the outermost layer of the formed multilayer surface film.

Although it is unknown when this technology will make it to market, it's evident that scientists are hard at work devising new ways to keep the hard drive going. Using nanotube technology in conjunction with perpendicular recording, we should be able to see hard drives with capacities in the terabytes become common. Seagate suggests that we can see hard drives with 10 times the capacities of today's largest hard drives.

Fujitsu also recently announced a breakthrough in the lubricant layer of its hard drives.  By using an extra thin layer of hard, friction-reduced materials, the magnetic head can get closer to the drive platter.  Thus,  the bits can be smaller and the density of the platter increased.



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RE: this just in....
By Xavian on 7/3/2006 12:15:51 AM , Rating: 2
indeed, i agree. HDD's are probably the second slowest component people replace (Monitors probably is first), people quite often keep HDD's for more then 5 years, so this is little scary that you have a predetirmined date in there, when the nano-tube lubrication runs out and you lose all of your data.

If they are gonna do this, i hope this put some kind of sensor in the HDD to give the current lubrication levels in the HDD (like ink-cartridges) and the software to check it.


RE: this just in....
By Xavian on 7/3/2006 12:16:40 AM , Rating: 2
this reply went onto the wrong comment (problem with these boards i believe.

This was meant for the comment under this one.


"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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