Creating a cutting-edge Centre for Doctoral Training in Photonic Integration for Advanced Data Storage

Issued: Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:30:00 BST

The University of Glasgow and Queen’s University of Belfast, along with 12 industry partners, are creating a cutting-edge Centre for Doctoral Training in Photonic Integration for Advanced Data Storage to address skills shortages in nanofabrication and photonic integration.

The Centre's focus will be on developing highly-manufacturable photonic integration technologies related to the magnetic storage of digital information. However, it is anticipated that the development of these technologies will be relevant to a wide spectrum of end-users – from telecommunications to biophotonics, in which optical technologies are applied to living organisms and health care.

The ability to store digital information has become a growing concern, as the memory capacity of even the smallest of devices, such as smartphones, has grown exponentially. To continue to increase the capacity of hard disk drives required to support 'cloud' computing a new technology will be required – and that is likely to be heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), which uses electromagnetic energy to locally heat the disk to ease the process of writing data on to it. It would allow recording densities to continue to increase at the same rate as happened over the past decade.

HAMR requires the integration of photonic components such as lasers, waveguides and plasmonic antennas into the recording head. This exciting technology will be the focus of the new CDT where the key challenge for the researchers will be to make HAMR deployable as a low-cost manufacturable technology.

The developments required by HAMR will drive low-cost photonic integration and plasmonic technology into other industries and applications. The Centre for Doctoral Training will therefore bring together a critical mass of partners from universities and industries that can meet this challenge, integrating expertise from material physics through to semiconductor device manufacture.