Microelectronic Engineering

Ultrahigh density, high-data-rate NEMS-based AFM data storage system

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We report on an AFM-array concept (`Millipede') for data storage of potentially ultrahigh density, terabit capacity, and high data rate. Thermomechanical writing and reading in very thin polymer films is used to store and sense 30-40-nm-sized bits with similar pitch size in very thin layers of PMMA, resulting in 400-500 Gbit/in2 storage densities. Data rates of several hundred Mbit/s are envisioned by operating very large (32×32) 2D AFM arrays in parallel. We have successfully batch-fabricated first all-silicon 5×5 and 32×32 AFM cantilever array chips. They constitute a major step of the Millipede concept towards terabit storage systems with small form factor and high data rates. Our 32×32 array chip is the first VLSI-NEMS (Nano ElectroMechanical Systems) for nanotechnological applications.