LBL and Seagate Magnetics Sign CRADA to Develop Hard Disk Protection

October 23, 1992

By Lynn Yarris,

LBL and Seagate Magnetics, a firm in Fremont that manufactures computer disk drives, have signed a half-million dollar Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to jointly develop a new process for making carbon coatings that protect hard disks.

Under the terms of this CRADA, $285,000 will be provided over the next three years through LBL by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and $235,000 in research costs will be shared by DOE and Seagate. The goal is to develop new types of amorphous carbon coatings that can be applied during the production of a hard disk's thin magnetic layer. Considered a key requirement for increasing the storage capacity and reliability of hard drives, these coatings protect a magnetic layer from wear and tear that occurs during the startup and operation of a computer.

The LBL-Seagate CRADA was signed last Thursday (Oct. 15) at a DOE- sponsored National Technology Initiative held in the Santa Clara Convention Center. Signing for LBL was Lab director Charles V. Shank, and signing for Seagate was Gary Rauch, Director of Technology. In attendance were Secretary of Energy James D. Watkins, Secretary of Commerce Barbara Hackman Franklin, and William K. Reilly, head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Critical to achieving the goal of the LBL-Seagate CRADA will be the ability to characterize the carbon coatings produced at the atomic level. Such characterizations reveal much about the relationship between atomic structure and properties in a material and can lead to ways of optimizing manufacturing processes to improve the material's performance.

Scientists at LBL, led by Gerd Rosenblatt and Joel Ager, of the Center for Advanced Materials, have developed a unique Raman spectroscopy technique whereby properties associated with changes in the position of atoms with respect to one another across the surface of a material can be determined thousands of times faster than ever before. This technique along with other research findings will be passed on to experts at Seagate who will apply it to their work. LBL and Seagate scientists and engineers will also collaborate on the design of new experiments that will further increase the value of Raman spectroscopy in the field of computer disk drive manufacturing.

The CRADA with Seagate is LBL's sixth such signing. CRADAs were established by the U.S. government as a means of enabling federally funded laboratories and private industry to work together on the development of technology that has high-potential for commercial applications.