Intel research team develops electronic probe storage device

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A research team has developed a long-lasting, ultra-high-density probe storage device by coating the tips of the probes with a thin metal film.

Led by Intel, the team’s device is said to feature an array of 5,000 ultra-sharp probes that is integrated with on-chip electronic circuits.

According to a statement, the probes write tiny bits of memory as small as a few nanometres by sending short electrical pulses to a ferroelectric film, a material that can be given a permanent electric polarisation by applying an electric field.

High-speed data access requires that the probes slide quickly and frequently across the film.

To prevent tip wear, which can seriously degrade the write-read resolution of the device, the researchers deposited a thin metal film of hafnium diboride (HfB2) on the probe tips.

The researchers say the metal film reduces wear and enables the probe tips to retain their write-read resolution at high speeds for distances exceeding 8km.

The data densities of the device exceed 1Tbit (Terabit) per square inch.

The work is claimed to be an important step toward the commercialisation of a probe-based storage technology with capacities that exceed those of hard disk and solid-state drives.

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 probes have limited lifespans due to mechanical wear.

An article describing the research has been published in the American Institute of Physics’ journal Applied Physics Letters. Click here to read more.