Multi Tbit/in2 Storage Densities with Thermomechanical Probes

Exploiting the spatial resolution of scanning probes presents an attractive approach for novel data storage technologies in particular for large-scale data repositories because of their inherent potential for high storage density. We show that multi-Tbit/in2 density can be achieved by means of thermomechanically embossing the information as indentation marks into a polymer film. The data density is determined by the nonlinear interaction between closely spaced indents and the fundamental scaling relations governing the shape and size of the indents. We find that cooperative effects in polymers give rise to a minimum indentation radius on the order of the correlation length of the cooperatively rearranged region even if formed by an infinitely sharp indenter. Thus, cooperativity coupled to α-transitions in polymers is evinced in a real space geometrical experiment. Furthermore, we predict that indentation marks cannot be made smaller than 5 nm in diameter, which limits the feature resolution for embossing technologies in general.