Date of Award

2010

Embargo Period

1-17-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Physics

Advisor(s)

Sara A. Majetich

Second Advisor

James A. Bain

Third Advisor

Stephen Garoff

Fourth Advisor

Michael Widom

Abstract

This project contributes to the long-term extensibility of bit-patterned media (BPM), by removing obstacles to using a new and smaller class of self-assembling materials: surfactant-coated nanoparticles. Self-assembly rapidly produces regular patterns of small features over large areas. If these patterns can be used as templates for magnetic bits, the resulting media would have both high capacity and high bit density. The data storage industry has identified block copolymers (BCP) as the self-assembling technology for the first generation of BPM. Arrays of surfactant-coated nanoparticles have long shown higher feature densities than BCP, but their patterns could not previously be transferred into underlying substrates. I identify one key obstacle that has prevented this pattern transfer: the particles undergo a disordering transition during etching which I have called “cracking”. I compare several approaches to measuring the degree of cracking, and I develop two novel techniques for preventing it and allowing pattern transfer. I demonstrate two different kinds of pattern transfer: positive (dots) and negative (antidots). To make dots, I etch the substrate between the particles with a directional CF4-based reactive ion etch (RIE). I find the ultrasmall gaps (just 2nm) cause a tremendous slowdown in the etch rate, by a factor of 10 or more — an observation of fundamental significance for any pattern transfer at ultrahigh bit densities. Antidots are made by depositing material in the interstices, then removing the particles to leave behind a contiguous inorganic lattice. This lattice can itself be used as an etch mask for CF4-based RIE, in order to increase the height contrast. The antidot process promises great generality in choice of materials, both for the antidot lattice and the particles themselves; here, I present lattices of Al and Cr, templated from arrays of 13:7nm-diameter Fe3O4 or 30nm-diameter MnO nanoparticles. The fidelity of transfer is also noticeably better for antidots than for dots, making antidots the more promising technique for industrial applications. The smallest period for which I have shown pattern transfer (15:7nm) is comparable to (but slightly smaller than) the smallest period currently shown for pattern transfer from block copolymers (17nm); hence, my results compare favorably with the state of the art. Ultimately, by demonstrating that surfactant-coated nanoparticles can be used as pattern masks, this work increases their viability as an option to continue the exponential growth of bit density in magnetic storage media.

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