Carnegie Mellon University

Chip Hogg

Chip Hogg

Physics graduate student, McWilliams Fellow


Moving toward nano data storage

In the data storage industry, bigger isn't better. Chip Hogg, a fourth year Physics doctoral student, is developing techniques that could lead to the next generation of data storage technology.

Hogg is working with Physics Professor Sara Majetich to improve the process of creating bit-patterned media, a novel, nanoscale way of storing data in increasingly tiny spaces. Specifically, he has developed a technique that allows him to etch a highly consistent, nanoscale pattern formed by magnetic nanoparticles onto a magnetic storage layer. Previous attempts to do this were unsuccessful because the nanoparticles have to be stabilized by surfactant, which gets in the way of etching the pattern.

By literally turning things upside down, Hogg figured out a way to expose the nanoparticle pattern so that it can be etched onto a silicon film using a gentle reactive ion etching process. After the etching is complete, he removes the nanoparticle mask using a wet-acid etch treatment he developed, revealing the pattern on the underlying silicon layer. The pattern that remains is vital to determining the amount of information that can be stored in a small space.

Hogg earned an MS degree in Physics from Carnegie Mellon in 2007, and a BSc in Physics and Computer Science from Brock University in Ontario, Canada in 2005. He was named an Astrid and Bruce McWilliams Fellow in 2009.