New HDD technology writes data at ultra-fast rates

An international team of researchers from around the world demonstrated a new way to write digital data onto magnetic storage media, potentially opening the way to one of the most important advancements in the field since the introduction of Perpendicular Magnetic Recording.

Led by University of York’s Department of Physics, the researchers found a way to use heat from a laser pulse to write data on the disk, a novel scenario that paves the way to achieving data writing speeds hundreds of time higher than those of the faster HDDs currently available on the market.

"Instead of using a magnetic field to record information on a magnetic medium", York physicist Thomas Ostler explained, “we harnessed much stronger internal forces and recorded information using only heat”. This new technology approach allows “the recording of Terabytes (thousands of Gigabytes) of information per second”, Ostler says.

The research, published on Nature Communications, describes a way to “fire” a very short pulse from a nano-laser in 1/10,000 of a nanosecond, precisely writing on a special magnetic plate (medium) made of a gadolinium and iron mix. By firing in a short timeframe, the laser needs less energy than a conventional magnetic head so the new method is much more efficient as for energy consumption.

For centuries it has been believed that heat can only destroy the magnetic order”, Dr Alexey Kimel of the Radboud University Nijmegen commented on the research, “now we have successfully demonstrated that it can, in fact, be a sufficient stimulus for recording information on a magnetic medium”.

The laser-powered tech writes faster, uses less energy and is based on a novel approach about magnetic storage, still it has its drawbacks: before entering the market, the new technology needs to be refined as it uses non-conventional materials and a laser head. Furthermore, the researchers gives no clues about actually reading back the data at rates that can be compared to those new writing speeds.

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