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Note: Research in this publication was not performed at Janelia.
Near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) has been used to image and record domains in thin-film magneto-optic (MO) materials. In the imaging mode, resolution of 30-50 nm has been consistently obtained, whereas in the recording mode, domains down to -60 nm have been written reproducibly. Data densities of -45 Gbits/in.’ have been achieved, well in excess of current magnetic or MO technologies. A brief analysis of speed and other issues indicates that the technique may represent a viable alternative to density data storage needs.
Commentary: The first demonstration of optical recording and playback beyond the diffraction limit, using magneto-optic multilayer films and polarization contrast near-field microscopy. Bits as small as 60 nm were recorded – beyond estimates at the time of the superparamagnetic limit to bit stability. Bit densities of 45 Gbits/in2 were also achieved, well in excess of optical or magnetic recording technologies of the era. In the years following this work, massive resources were spent on the commercialization of near-field data storage, largely for naught.