Hard drive manufacturer Seagate has submitted a patent application that uses carbon nanotubes technology which could allow for a ten-fold increase in hard drive capacity.
The nanotubes slowly leak a vapor lubricant – but that is just part of the plan. Seagate's patent describes how this technology could be used in conjunction with a technology called HAMR (which stands for Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording) where a laser could be used to heat a small portion of the surface of the platter, which would allow more data to be packed onto the surface.
The HAMR idea is based on properties already well-known and could allow for data densities of several terabits per square inch, but the problem with heating the platter is that this would cause the coating of lubrication on the platter to evaporate and make it prone to head crashes. What Seagate hope to do is use a reservoir of carbon nanotubes to hold the lubricant. When the laser is used to heat the reservoir, small amounts of lubricant are released by the nanotubes to replenish areas depleted of lubricant in about 10 milliseconds and allows for the head to write the data to the platter without damage. The drives are sealed so that the lubricant can't escape and the nanotube reservoir would last for the life of the drive.
This sounds really interesting, especially if combined with perpendicular drive technology. I'm glad to see that Seagate is making sure that they'll have hard drives big enough for my storage needs is a few year's time!