American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Tribology Division, TRIB

Effect of carbon overcoat thickness on the Zdol boundary lubricant film


Formation of a tribologically reliable interface between the read-write head and the computer disk in hard-disk drives is accomplished by the use of a thin, wear-resistant carbon overcoat in conjunction with a molecularly-thin perfluoropolyether (PFPE) lubricant film. The intermolecular interactions that develop between the PFPE lubricant and the carbon overcoat govern the adhesion, coverage, and physical properties of the lubricant, e.g. the lubricant structure and mobility. Consequently, the molecular interactions at the lubricant-carbon interface will contribute to the overall tribological performance of the disk-drive. Due to the ever-increasing demands for storage capacity, pressure exists to reduce the separation distance between the read/write head and disk surface. One means of reducing this separation distance is to use thinner protective overcoats on both the head and disk surfaces. In this study the interactions between Fomblin Zdol and both amorphous hydrogenated (CHx) and nitrogenated (CNx) carbon overcoats were investigated as a function of overcoat thickness from 0-100 angstroms. The Zdol film structure was probed by titrating the magnetic alloy, the CHx and CNx surfaces with Zdol. The molecular weight dependence of the maximum bonded Zdol thickness on these surfaces is used to deduce structural information on the adsorbed Zdol film. In progressing from CHx to CNx to the magnetic alloy, we find the Zdol boundary layer film to be characterized by an increase in average distance between the PFPE backbone and the surface, or equivalently an increase in the average Zdol monolayer thickness. On the CHx overcoat, Zdol preferentially lies more parallel to the surface, whereas on the magnetic layer, Zdol is oriented more perpendicular to the surface. When these experiments were conducted as a function of carbon overcoat thickness, we find that interaction of Zdol with the field of the underlying magnetic film becomes important at carbon film thicknesses <30 angstroms. The dependence of the Zdol adhesion on carbon overcoat thickness was quantified by determining the Zdol film thickness dependence of both the dispersive and polar components of the Helmholtz free energy. The Zdol bonding kinetics were also studied as a function of carbon thickness.