The breakthrough has been made in the research of bit-patterned media, a magnetic storage technology that is being developed for future hard disk drives. In today's drives, magnetic material is spread across the surface of the disk and bits of data are stored across several hundred magnetic grains, but the technology is reaching its limit.
Bit-patterned media breaks up the recording surface into numerous magnetic bits, each consisting of a few magnetic grains. Under a microscope, the magnetic bits look like thousands of tiny spheres crammed next to each another.
Prototypes of the media have been made before but Toshiba says its engineers have, for the first time, succeeded in producing a media sample in which the magnetic bits are organized into a pattern of rows. The rows and gaps between them are important because they act as markers to where data is stored.