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Heat-assisted magnetic recording is a promising approach for enabling large increases in the storage density of hard disk drives. A laser is used to momentarily heat the recording area of the medium to reduce its coercivity below that of the applied magnetic field from the recording head. In such a system, the recording materials have a very high magnetic anisotropy, which is essential for the thermal stability of the magnetization of the extremely small grains in the medium. This technology involves new recording physics, new approaches to near field optics, a recording head that integrates optics and magnetics, new recording materials, lubricants that can withstand extremely high temperatures, and new approaches to the recording channel design. This paper surveys the challenges for this technology and the progress that has been made in addressing them.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2008