Nanoscale Temperature of Plasmonic HAMR Heads by Polymer Imprint Thermal Mapping

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Polymer imprint thermal mapping (PITM) is a high-resolution thermal mapping technique that is especially valuable for nanoscale plasmonic devices. PITM leverages a ∼50 nm polymer film coating that crosslinks irreversibly with temperature, which records the peak temperature rise of the surface in the local, linear reduction of polymer film thickness. Using AFM to measure topography before and after heating, but not during operation, PITM sidesteps plasmonic artifacts seen in other near-field thermometries, where the probe tip disturbs and is heated directly by the near- and far-field radiation around the plasmonic device. This is notably troublesome for characterizing heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) heads for next-generation hard disk drives. HAMR heads use near-field transducers (NFTs) to focus light on a magnetic media, heating a nanoscale region to its Curie temperature to enable magnetic writing. The PITM proof-of-concept was introduced at The Magnetic Recording Conference (TMRC) in 2015: here, we present a mature technique capable of benchmarking finite-element thermal simulations of nanoscale devices.