Park Systems, a leading manufacturer of atomic force microscopy (AFM) products, proudly introduces its next generation NX-PTR, a fully automated system for hard disk drive slider manufacturing.  Newly developed in collaboration with leaders in the hard disk drive (HDD) production, Park’s NX-PTR increases production yield by 200% with an enhanced automation routine, faster scan rate and recipe automation.

“Park Systems trademark AFM line demonstrates the accuracy and reliability in innovation required by the explosive nanotechnology companies as they shape the future for nanoscale products at the production level,” stated Ryan Yoo, VP of Global Sales and Marketing. “Park’s latest AFM  system surpasses all other previous systems available for extremely accurate pole tip recession (PTR) measurements with sub-Angstrom gauge repeatability and reproducibility enhancing HDD production with dramatic improvements in automated measurements at the sub angstrom level.”

The hard disk industry uses AFM for Pole Tip Recession (PTR) measurements, a critical process for monitoring hard disk drive failures. Park Systems developed the PTR Series, a fully automated AFM with sub-Angstrom accuracy and repeatability for PTR measurements for HDD sliders and now announces the next generation design, for dramatic cost reduction in the manufacturing process.

Park NX-PTR sets a new standard in precision AFM nanometrology imaging for inline HDD slider metrology that provides fast, streamlined Pole Tip Recession (PTR) measurements from automatic tip exchange to large area feature measurements to the automatic zoom-in imaging of reader/writer poles.  Park NX-PTR generates accurate images of highly detailed regions of interest within larger macrostructures, without any need of reference scan to correct various scanner artifacts. 

The NX-PTR offers extremely accurate PTR measurements with sub-Angstrom gauge repeatability and reproducibility. The automated measurements are available on various levels of individual sliders, row bars, and/or carrier. The NX-PTR provides unprecedented accuracy in topography height measurement by utilizing its ultra-low noise Z detector instead of the commonly used Z voltage signal that is non-linear in nature.  Industry leading low noise Z detector replace the applied Z voltage as the topography signal.

With enhanced electronic and mechanics design, NX-PTR identifying feature is the Park Systems patented  crosstalk eliminated scan system of AFM which allows for truly flat scans, effectively eliminating the multi-scan process.   HDD production level Sample topography is measured by industry leading low noise Z detector.  It provides accurate surface height recording, without piezo creep, even during high-speed scanning.

“While most AFMs generate impressive three-dimensional images, many are not designed for advanced metrology. They function well as a qualitative imaging tool, but lack the accuracy required to monitor critical process parameters for manufacturing control.  Proper monitoring of the PTR value requires a measurement accuracy of 0.1 nm, referenced against a surface which is 20µm away. This is equivalent to repeatedly measuring 1mm step heights from 20m away, down to the accuracy of a human hair (about 0.1mm),” explains Dr. Sang-il Park, CEO and Founder of Park Systems.

“Due to the design of traditional AFMs, they display intrinsic bowing in the range of 50nm over the 20µm scan. This can be corrected for by subtracting a best-fit second- or third-order plane, but this makes the measurement of PTR (typically around 1 nm) more of an art than a science for most instruments.  Park NX-PTR is designed and optimized for inline slider metrology, providing a highly orthogonal and flat scan with adequate repeatability and accuracy for precision nanometrology.  Also, in True Non-ContactTM mode, tip-sample interaction is very weak, which minimizes wear on both the tip and the sample during scanning.”

The new Park NX-PTR system is designed to be extremely mechanically and thermally stable, minimizing thermal drift, providing the highest degree of accuracy and precision in the measurements and nanoscale levels. In addition, the Park AFM trademarked True Non-Contact mode design preserves tip sharpness for prolonged high resolution imaging and much longer tip life.   Typical tip life runs 1000 ~ 2000 images per tip. The new NX-PTR which is available now offers extremely powerful nanoscale automated measurements, powerfully improved capability in throughput, tip life and operation robustness and vastly increased throughput for HDD production manufacturing. 

This story is reprinted from material from Park Systems, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.