Flying Stiction, Lubricant Pick-Up and Carbon-Overcoat Wear of Magnetic Heads

[+] Author and Article Information
Chao Gao, Peihua Dai, Vinh Vu

Akashic Memories Corporation, 305 W. Tasman Drive, San Jose, CA 95134

J. Tribol 121(1), 97-101 (Jan 01, 1999) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2833817 History: Received January 15, 1998; Revised April 20, 1998; Online January 24, 2008


Flying stiction, a high static friction force resulting from a magnetic head seeking/flying over a disk surface, has posed a new challenge in magnetic-disk tribology for low flying heights (̃30 nm or less), as demanded by high recording densities. Two types of magnetic heads were used in this study. A more than 10-fold increase in flying stiction force was observed for the carbon coated heads after a 24 hours of seeking/flying over the disk surface. Using Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy and a scanning micro-ellipsometer, we found that the lubricant pickup during seeking/flying operation was responsible for the observed 10-fold increase of the flying stiction force. A nearly exponential dependence of flying stiction force on lubricant amount picked up on the air bearing surface (ABS) of the magnetic heads was found. For 24 hours of seeking/flying time, the lubricant accumulated on the ABS surfaces can be up to 1.5 nm, comparable to the lubricant thickness on the disk surfaces. The lubricant amount was found quite uniformly distributed over the ABS surface of the head. Wear on the carbon overcoat of the magnetic heads was also measured, and was equivalent to approximately 1 nm carbon loss for a 24-hour seeking/flying period. The wear rate of the carbon overcoat was very fast for short periods of seeking time (̃2 hours) and slowed down to near-zero as lubricant built up on the ABS surface, indicating that the lubricant on the head protected carbon wear. The wear of carbon overcoat strongly suggests that intermittent physical contacts between the disk surface and head ABS occurred during seeking/flying operations.

Copyright © 1999 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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