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Transport properties

Transport properties

Tera-byte disk drives

17 Mar 1998

The Winchester hard drive may have had its day. Steven Morton has developed a new storage device which uses dielectric components instead of magnetic films. Such a drive could store tera-bytes of information.

The device works by storing the data as regions of electric charge. The charge is trapped within a thin dielectric layer coated onto a conducting platter.

The hard drive reads and writes data using field tip-emitters fabricated on the top of a silicon chip. The tip of each emitter is only 25 nanometres across, which means that large amounts of data can be stored on each platter. The chip is positioned above the platter in a similar manner to present read/write heads.

Data is written to the dielectric disk by applying a voltage to the field-tip emitter. This causes the tip to emit electrons that are trapped in the dielectric. Data is read by measuring the current induced in the emitter by the dielectric. Read/write speeds can be increased by increasing the number of tips on each chip.

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