Frank Talke

Frank Talke


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

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Research Focus

Mechanics and tribology of magnetic storage, and micro-mechanical design techniques for ultra high-density disk drives.

Research Summary

In the past 45 years, areal density of data storage on rigid disks has increased 10 millionfold to more than 30 Gigabits (30 billion bits). The next milestone, 100 Gigabits/square inch, is near, and researchers are planning for Terabit (one trillion bits per square inch) areal density. New techniques are required to design devices with moving parts orders of magnitude smaller than those typically handled by mechanical engineers. As head of the Tribology and Mechanics Lab at UCSD's Center for Magnetic Recording, Professor Talke is at the forefront of this effort with research that takes place where borders blur between mechanics, physics, and chemistry. For example, a Terabit/square inch density will require read-write head "sliders" on disk drives to fly to within 5 nanometers of the disk media, or 125 times less than the wavelength of a red (helium-neon) laser. This is so close that adhesion forces between slider and disk must be considered, lubricant-materials interactions (stiction) come into play, the slightest unwanted lateral motion can throw the slider off track, and "seeing" what is happening is challenging. Areas of expertise for Talke are the mechanics of disk-drive heads, the tribology (or close surface interactions) of heads and recording media, strategies to reduce slider flying heights, the physics and chemistry of lubricants, modeling and analysis of the flying characteristics of sliders, and instrumentation to assess and measure slider motion and dynamics.


Frank Talke came to UCSD in 1986. He was chairman of the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering 1993-1995. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and member of the National Academy of Engineering (ASME). Among his many honors, Talke is the first recipient of ASME's Seagate Information Technology Award (2002). Talke received a Diplom-Ingenieur degree from the University of Stuttgart in 1965, and a M.Sc. and Ph. D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1966 and 1968, respectively.