Overcoat, Tribology and Flyability

Program Overview

The exponential increase in disk drive storage capacity critically depends on reducing the spacing between the magnetic recording head and the recording medium, or head-media spacing (HMS), which demands the ultrathin protecting films of overcoat and lubricant, and sub-nanometer clearance or air gap between the head and disk. In addition, a stable and reliable head-disk interface which will be able to provide sufficient durability for many years operation is becoming even more crucial, especially when novel alternative recording technologies, such as heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) and bit-patterned media recording (BPMR), are introduced to hard drive drives.

The main mission of Overcoat, Flyability and Tribology Program is to explore and develop the enabling head-disk interface technologies for further reducing the head-media spacing, and improving the reliability and durability of the head-disk interfaces in hard disk drives.

The Overcoat, Flyability and Tribology Program focuses its activities on the nano-mechanics and tribology of head-disk interface (HDI), interface material (overcoat and lubricant) development and characterization, HDI modeling and simulation code development, and flyability testing technologies.

Research Focus

HAMR overcoat, lube and head-disk interface

  • Experimental study and evaluation of overcoat and lube under HAMR conditions
  • New overcoat development for HAMR & thickness reduction
  • Molecular Dynamics simulation for HAMR overcoat and lubricant

HDI modeling and simulation platform development

  • Air bearing code development and improvement
  • Coupling of air bearing and HGA dynamics with MOR for op-shock, L/UL and dynamic touch-down take-off analysis
  • Modeling & simulation for HAMR head, media & interface

Testing & solution exploration for near-contact HDI

  • Detection of slider-lube-disk interactions and electrical field effect on HDI
  • Dynamic FH control for FH modulation reduction
  • Lube pick up study and solutions
  • Media post-process for flyable thin drive and HAMR media

Graphical User Interface (GUI) of ABSolution: (a) Pre-processing, (b) Post-processing

Simulation Models of ABSolution: (a) Simulation models, (b) Coupled-field analysis

Research capability

DSI’s air bearing simulation software: ABSolution

Our strength in code development has seen the commercialization of our air bearing simulation software ABSolution – a powerful platform for air bearing slider and HGA design and simulation with the following features:

  • High speed in simulation, especially in dynamic simulation
  • Unstructured triangular meshing for high meshing efficiency, and high accuracy
  • Head-disk system integration by coupling air bearings with HGA and disk dynamics models
  • Strong dynamic analysis capability for TFC and RPM TD-TO, op-shock, LUL and HAMR HGA flyability simulations
  • User-friendly graphic interface with powerful pre- and pro-processors

Media overcoat, lube and post-process facilities and capabilities

Currently, DSI has the following capabilities to deposit overcoat/lubricant materials and is currently conducting R&D work using the following equipment:

  • INTEVAC Lean 200 system: station 18 (CDP), 19 (PECVD) & 20 (PVD) for DLC deposition
  • FCVA coating system
  • UHV/Oblique, AJA sputtering systems that are capable of co-sputtering
  • Self-developed HAMR overcoat and lubricant tester with environmental control
  • Multi-luber system, and custom-made Senlights UV treatment system
  • YAC Tape-burnishing/wiping machine and Hitachi High-Tec Burnish/Glide/Certifier Tester

HDI and tribology characterization facilities and capabilities

The team’s capability include slider characterization, HGA level characterization, advanced nano-tribology testing and surface characterization, with support from DSI Material Science lab. The team also has a strong capability in HDI-related testing and has closely worked with many industry partners in this area.

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