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BELL LABS RESEARCHERS DEMONSTRATE NEW MAGNETO-OPTIC DATA STORAGE TECHNIQUE

 BELL LABS RESEARCHERS DEMONSTRATE NEW MAGNETO-OPTIC DATA STORAGE
 TECHNIQUE
 MURRAY HILL, N.J., Aug. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- A team of researchers at AT&T Bell Laboratories has demonstrated a revolutionary new magneto- optic data storage technique that offers data densities of 45 billion bits per square inch -- a nearly 100-fold increase over today's best commercial magneto-optic methods and 300 times better than current magnetic-storage capabilities.
 At that density, two copies of "War and Peace" could be stored in an area about the size of the head of a pin.
 Using a near-field scanning optical microscopy technique developed at Bell Labs, the system currently can write and image bits with dimensions as small as 60 nanometers (60 billionths of a meter or about 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair). The research, reported in "Applied Physics Letters," stems from earlier work conducted at Bell Labs to perfect a more powerful optical microscope for the inspection of integrated circuits and the investigation of living cells.
 To date, the highest density achieved by Bell Labs researchers Eric Betzig, Jay Trautman, Ray Wolfe, Mike Gyorgy and Patrick Finn consists of a 20 x 20 array of bits with a center-to-center distance between bits of 120 nanometers. "Ultimately, we may be able to achieve densities of 200 to 500 gigabits (billion bits) per square inch before reaching the physical limits of the technique," said Betzig, of the Semiconductor Physics Research Department. "Even at the current density, though, a computer disk that fits in the palm of your hand could hold up to 17 hours of HDTV-quality video."
 As with conventional magneto-optic devices, the near-field system uses a laser beam to read and write data. However, rather than using a lens to focus the beam on the recording material, the light is sent into a probe made from an aluminum-coated optical fiber, tapered to a tiny point at one end.
 "The light beam emitted at the end of the fiber is about 50 nanometers wide, and when it is positioned close to the recording medium, the fiber probe produces a light spot much smaller than can ever be achieved with a lens," said Horst Stormer, director of the Physical Research Laboratory.
 The recording medium consists of thin, multilayered films of platinum and cobalt, which are being developed at the Engineering Research Center for Data Storage Systems at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa. Center Director Mark Kryder explained, "These films were specially selected for this application because they support extremely high-density storage and do not require an overcoat to protect them from corrosion."
 To store data, a laser beam is used to heat a small region under the probe, resulting in the formation of magnetized bits with a magnetization direction opposite that of the surrounding material. After recording, the pattern is read using a lower-power read beam, which passes through the same tapered fiber.
 "The near-field scanning optical microscopy work of Eric Betzig and his colleagues opens the potential for a major advance in magneto- optical recording," said Bill Brinkman, Bell Labs executive director -- Physics Research. "It is very exciting work."
 The technique shares similarities with both commercial memory technologies: magneto-optics (the medium) and magnetic hard disk (a close-flying scan head). These similarities should facilitate development of this new technology.
 Many elements, such as read/write speed and bit-error rates, need to be investigated before the system can be commercialized. Nevertheless, Bell Labs researchers believe the system can be made competitive.
 -0- 8/5/92 R
 /CONTACT: Russ Glover, 201-564-4097, or home, 908-996-3252, or Donna Cunningham, 802-482-3748, or home, 802-482-2933, both of AT&T/
 (T) CO: AT&T ST: New Jersey IN: TLS SU:


GK -- NY019R -- 7383 08/06/92 07:48 EDT
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Date:Aug 6, 1992
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