Effect of Molecularly Thin Lubricant on Roughness and Adhesion of Magnetic Disks Intended for Extremely High-Density Recording Academic Article uri icon


  • For extremely high-density recording using conventional technologies, the fly-height needs to decrease to less than ten nanometers. To allow such operation, disk and slider surfaces must become extremely smooth, down to root-mean-square (RMS) roughness values of a few angstroms. For super-smooth disks, molecularly thin lubricants are applied to improve tribological performance of head/disk interfaces. The focus of this study is to quantify the effect of lubricant thickness in terms of detailed roughness parameters and to evaluate the effect of roughness and molecularly thin lubricant on adhesion of magnetic disks intended for extremely high-density recording. Three identical ultra-low-flying disks have been fabricated from the same batch for this particular experiment. To investigate the effect of molecularly thin lubricants on disk roughness, super-smooth magnetic disks with increasing lubricant thickness have been measured and studied, using a primary roughness parameter set. It describes amplitude, spatial, hybrid, and functional aspects of surface roughness and is used to quantify the extremely smooth disk roughness as a function of lubricant thickness. It is found that in addition to simple amplitude parameters, hybrid and functional parameters also capture small features on the disk roughness and show distinct trends with increasing lubricant thickness. Subsequently, a continuum-based adhesion model that uses three parameters from the primary roughness parameter set, is used to predict how the varying thickness of molecularly thin lubricant and the resulting disk roughness affect intermolecular forces at ultra-low-flying head-disk interfaces. It is found that a thicker lubricant layer of 2 nm causes higher adhesion forces for ultra-low-flying-heights in the range of 1-3 nm.

published proceedings

  • Tribology Letters

author list (cited authors)

  • Suh, A. Y., & Polycarpou, A. A.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Suh, Allison Y||Polycarpou, Andreas A

publication date

  • November 2003