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Today, conventional magnetic recording schemes are coming to an end because of the superparamagnetic limit. Heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) may ultimately extend data densities beyond 1 TB/in2. HAMR systems utilize the phenomenon during which the magnetic properties of the recording media could be locally modified via heating (optionally, by an optical source in the near field) to temperature in the vicinity of the Curie value of the media material. As a result, heat induced by the optical source can temporarily reduce the magnetic coercivity of high anisotropy material to a level attainable by the magnetic writing head, thus making it feasible to record on relatively small ultra-high anisotropy (and thermally stable) grains, consequently enhancing the areal density dramatically. The key challenge is to develop a near-field transducer capable of delivering over 50 nW into a spot diameter of 30 nm. Traditional fiber schemes are barely capable of 0.1 nW. To resolve the issue, a laser diode could be placed with the emitting edge only a few nanometers away from the recording media. The light can propagate through a nanoaperture on the surface of an aluminum-coated emitting edge. This paper will present an experimental study of recording characteristics of various near-field transducers fabricated via focused ion beam (FIB). To count the number of photons emitted in the near field, a scanning near-field optical microscopy system has been implemented. The experiments indicate that the FIB-fabricated transducers could deliver power of over a few microwatt into a 30-nm spot (Fig. 7).
Date of Publication: Nov. 2008