Data storage using ultra-small needles

March 31, 2008

Dutch researcher Alexander le Fèbre has demonstrated that a field-emission current signal can be used to arrange the position of thousands of nanometre-sharp needles. These probes can be applied to write and read in new storage media with an extremely high density, using bits on a nanometre scale.

The development of the hard disk is now reaching its technical limits because the entire disk is served by just a single head. Consequently, the capacity of the disk and the reading and writing speed cannot expand much more in the future.

Therefore research into a memory based on probes is being carried out at the University of Twente’s MESA+ research institute. Being able to control the position of each separate probe is essential for realising a system with extremely high densities.

Le Fèbre's measurements show that a field-emission current signal can be used to adjust the position of the probes without these making direct contact with the storage medium. If a constant current is maintained and the applied voltage is varied, the distance between the probe apex and the storage medium can be adjusted from several nanometres to about 100 nanometres.

The resolution is sufficient for a probe-based storage system. However for practical applications, the current stability and the lifetime of the probes will need to be improved further so that the accuracy and reproducibility of positioning can be increased.

Source: NWO

Explore further: Scientists get first glimpse of conductivity that could break size barriers for memory

Related Stories

Simple detection of magnetic skyrmions

October 6, 2015

At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At the University of Hamburg these exotic magnetic structures ...

Less wear, longer life for memory storage device

September 12, 2012

Probe storage devices read and write data by making nanoscale marks on a surface through physical contact. The technology may one day extend the data density limits of conventional magnetic and optical storage, but current ...

Science City stores heat in the ground

July 13, 2010

A groundbreaking project is currently being implemented on the Honggerberg Campus: in future, waste heat from buildings on the Science City Campus will be stored in the earth during the summer through 800 ground probes. The ...

Recommended for you

Physicists develop new technique to fathom 'smart' materials

November 26, 2015

Physicists from the FOM Foundation and Leiden University have found a way to better understand the properties of manmade 'smart' materials. Their method reveals how stacked layers in such a material work together to bring ...

Mathematicians identify limits to heat flow at the nanoscale

November 24, 2015

How much heat can two bodies exchange without touching? For over a century, scientists have been able to answer this question for virtually any pair of objects in the macroscopic world, from the rate at which a campfire can ...

New sensor sends electronic signal when estrogen is detected

November 24, 2015

Estrogen is a tiny molecule, but it can have big effects on humans and other animals. Estrogen is one of the main hormones that regulates the female reproductive system - it can be monitored to track human fertility and is ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Apr 02, 2008
I see patent infringement on the horizon with
Colossal's 1998 patents.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.