IBM J. Res. Dev

Probe-based ultrahigh-density storage technology

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Ultrahigh storage densities ean be aehieved by using a thermomechanieal scanning-probe-based data-storage approach to write, read back, and erase data in very thin polymer films. High data rates are achieved by parallel operation of large two-dimensional arrays of cantilevers that can be batch fabricated by silicon-surface micromachining techniques. The very high precision required to navigate the storage medium relative to the array of probes is achieved by microelectromechanical system (MEMS) - based x and y actuators. The ultrahigh storage densities offered by probe-storage devices pose a significant challenge in terms of both control design for nanoscale positioning and read-channel design for reliable signal detection. Moreover, the high parallelism necessitates new dataflow architectures to ensure high performance and reliability of the system. In this paper, we present a small-scale prototype system of a storage device that we built based on scanning-probe technology. Experimental results of multiple sectors, recorded using multiple levers at 840 Gb/in2 and read back without errors, demonstrate the functionality of the prototype system. This is the first time a scanning-probe recording technology has reached this level of technical maturity, demonstrating the joint operation of all building blocks of a storage device. © Copyright 2008 by International Business Machines Corporation.