An investigation of thin film magnetic recording media

  • Michael S. Hempstock

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Mechanical, physical and chemical changes in the surface of commercial thin film metal evaporated magnetic recording media have been correlated to recording error and signal degradation measurements. Modified and adapted commercial Hi-8 video recorders have been used for sample generation whilst analytical techniques such as SXPS,IMS and SEM have been employed in the surface characterisation.
The durability of the media was assessed through stop motion (still frame) and cycling tests, where error growth and signal degradation were measured as a function of running time. The tests were performed under ambient (22°C, 40% RH) and high humidity (22°C, 80% RH) conditions.
Characterisation of the lubricant layer on each tape was performed through models based on XPS and angle resolved XPS. The lubricant thickness can significantly affect the durability and signal output level of a thin film tape and thus it is important that reliable quantification can be achieved. Various models were considered for determining the lubricant thickness although ultimately, the most suitable technique was deemed to be a model that assumed a uniform layer structure.
In addition to thin film metal evaporated media, equivalent durability tests and surface analysis experiments were performed using a commercial metal particle tape in order that comparisons could be made between the two types of recording media. The signal performance of the thin film metal evaporated media was found to be quite different from that for the metal particle tape since dropout errors and signal degradation increased at a much earlier stage.
Extensive surface analyses enabled the mechanisms responsible for media failure and error growth to be identified in the ME and MP tapes and these were found to result from cyclic stressing and fatigue on the immediate substrate of the media.
Date of AwardSept 1997
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn L Sullivan (Supervisor)


  • commercial
  • thin film metal
  • evaporated magnetic recording
  • analytical techniques
  • SXPS
  • IMS
  • SEM
  • surface characterisation
  • lubricant thickness

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