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HGST unites nanoimprints, self-assembling molecules to double hard drive space


Hard drive makers are in a race to boost capacities and keep spinning disks at least a beat ahead of flash drives on the value curve. We've seen some exotic developments as a result, but HGST wants to go the extra mile by relying on two breakthroughs at once. Its future storage primarily takes advantage of self-assembling polymer molecules that align themselves into rows. By first splitting the molecules into very small lines and then using an equally rare nanoimprinting technology to put them into circular tracks, HGST can create platters with a 10 nanometer-wide bit pattern that's twice as dense as current hard drives. The technique should hold up in the real world despite ditching typical photolithography, the company says: the nanoimprinting remains useful in the error-prone world of storage, and it should scale as the patterns get smaller. If only the drive designer had a roadmap -- while the company has a tendency to bring its research to market, the lack of a timetable hints that we won't see these nanoimprinted drives very soon.

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