In modern society there is an almost insatiable demand for ever increasing storage capacities in computers and consumer electronics. Magnetic recording is the dominant storage technology and the hard disk, due to its versatility, is becoming a pervasive device in various applications. The soaring demand arises from data-intensive computer applications, including graphics, animation, multimedia and desktop publishing, to which can be added a growing market for non-PC consumer devices such as set-top boxes, cameras, mobile phones, laser printers and satellite navigation systems. In response to this demand the hard disk drive manufacturers have come forward with spectacular increase in storage capacities and densities over the last decade. It is currently projected that the evolution of conventional perpendicular recording storage density in the hard disk industry will reach a limit of 500 Gbit/in2, while further progress will require major breakthroughs and alternative technologies.
In this presentation we will review the state-of-the-art in magnetic recording media and we will discuss the future approaches to reach densities in excess of 1 Tbit/in2 densities along the three axes : a) self-assembled coercive nanoparticles, b) exchange spring media and percolated media, and c) bit-patterned media (nanoscale patterning). This entails resolving several conflicting requirements with regard to signal to noise ratio (SNR) , writability and thermal stability of these new promising systems.