IBM
Skip to main content
 
Search IBM Research
     Home  |  Products & services  |  Support & downloads  |  My account
[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]
 Select a country
 IBM Research Home
 IBM Almaden Home
Informatics
[an error occurred while processing this directive] Entrevues
 · English
 · Português
 · Español
 · Français
Biography
Presentations
Explore
 · Communication
 · Scenarios
 · Technology
 · Multimedia
Events
 
 


[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]Sorry, English content only on the exploration pages.

Technology Home | Nanotechnology

IBM research explores Lilliputian limits

by Luc Morris

Tim Reiley, head of Micromechanics at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, and Chairman of the IBM Micromechanics Council, shudders at mention of the word "nanotechnology."

"Nanotechnology (technology at the nanometer level) has been hyped up a lot. We prefer the home-grown term 'micromechanics' because we do practical work more at the micron level," he says.

Almaden, as well as IBM labs at Yorktown, Zurich, and Tokyo, carry out industry-leading research in the area of MEMS, or Microelectro Mechanical Systems.

Micromechanics in storage

Micro hard drives explored by IBMAs the areal density of data storage on disks continues to grow at the breakneck pace of 50-60 percent a year, disks with storage of 10 gigabytes per square inch will likely be commercially available in five to seven years, according to Reiley.

At this storage density, the space between tracks on the disk surface will approach one micron (.000001 meter). As data gets closer together on the disk, the read-write head will need to be able to move over the disk surface with more precision.

Almaden researchers, with Long-Sheng Fan at the helm, are working on a microactuator to solve this problem. Recording heads would use a two-stage actuator to move: a conventional actuator would move the entire head and arm, and a microactuator would move the head only (where the recording sensor is) with fine precision to the exact location over the disk surface.

Although research into micromechanics and storage is relatively new, "this research (micromechanics) will become very important when disks reach the 10-20 gigabyte per square inch range," explains Reiley.

At the same time, Almaden research has developed the microfile (see picture). About the size of a quarter, the microfile will hold 1GB of data at current storage densities. Microfile technology is now being used in cameras, printers,  hand-held communicators and digital picture frames -- areas where magnetic storage will be cheaper than alternative semiconductor storage.

The Atomic Force Microscope probe

The second area of Almaden research in micromechanics is led by Dan Rugar. Magnetic and optical storage density will continue to increase until it hits a physical limit. At that point, a new technology will be needed to further increase storage density.

Current research uses an AFM-based probe to create and detect fine pits in a storage medium. As the AFM tip is pressed against the disk surface, a probe-heating laser (to write) and a motion detection laser (to read) work together to allow very high density storage.

Almaden research by Dan Rugar, Jonathon Mamin, and Bruce Terris has already demonstrated data storage density of 25 gigabytes per square inch, with a data reading rate of one megabyte per second, using this method.

"Micromechanics is a technology that IBM only began to focus on five years ago," says Reiley. "But, with disk storage density increasing at current rates, this is going to be very, very important in the near future."

Maybe then we can hype micromechanics a little.

The 4-Million Mirror Chip

Another IBM advancement has come in the form of a seemingly unrelated to computers discovery--the 4-million mirror chip.

four million mirrors on a single chip

 

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Última atualização: 07/21/2011
Jean Paul Jacob: jacob@almaden.ibm.com

  About IBM  |  Privacy  |  Terms of use  |  Contact