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Dr. Lubomyr T. Romankiw Lectures on "MAGNETIC HARD DISC STORAGE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE" at Ukrainian Engineers' Lecture Series
by Ivan Durbak

On June 2nd, 2004, the Ukrainian Engineers’ Society of NYC presented a lecture by Dr. Lubomyr T. Romankiw, noted research scientiest and IBM Fellow at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, N. Y., at the Ukrainian Institute on East 79th Street, New York City, on "“MAGNETIC HARD DISC STORAGE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE”.

Dr. Lubomyr T. Romankiw

Dr. Romankiw started with an overview of the entire computer disk technology, history and environment. He then provided a detailed description of plating through mask technology used in thin film heads in magnetic storage, which he pioneered several decades ago. Dr. Romankiw originally conceived and developed, and has since updated, the entire fabrication process, which to this day, is the basis for manufacturing of magnetic storage heads around the world. Every PC in the world today typically houses a magnetic disk based directly on the work of Dr. Romankiw: as one of the audience suggested, just as each PC typically shows a sign “Intel Inside” for the CPU chips, there should perhaps be a similar indicator on each PC showing “Dr. Romankiw Inside” for the hard disk.

Dr. Romankiw described how the original hard disk drive, RAMAC 305, introduced by IBM in 1957, had an areal density of 2,000 bits/inch square and used copper wire hand wound ferrite cores as read-write heads. Today commercial systems approach storage density of 100 Gigabits/sq. In laboratory tests heads capable of 150 Gigabits/sq. in. are being investigated, a density once thought to be unattainable. This represents eight orders of magnitude increase in areal density in 47years. Four orders of magnitude of this jump was achieved since commercial introduction by IBM, of the inductive, multi turn, batch fabricated thin film heads in 1979. Since introduction of the first thin film heads the cost of storage has dropped four orders of magnitude, the data rate has increased several orders of magnitude. This has had a significant effect on enabling the desk and lap-top computers, data mining and Internet. Data stored half way around the world are found, analyzed, and results delivered, through high speed interconnections, in fractions of seconds.

Dr. Romankiw presented the technology which was originally invented at the T. J Watson Research Center of IBM in Yorktown Height, NY and which was developed jointly with IBM San Jose, CA into a commercial process used today to manufacture thin film heads throughout the world. Since the invention of the batch fabrication process for the thin film heads, the magnetic storage has undergone two paradigm shifts. Today we stand on the verge of one more paradigm shift which, while using the fundamental processes developed some 35 years ago, promises to extend magnetic storage density another one to two orders of magnitude. This process, based on electrochemical technology created new era in hard disk storage while at the same time it resulted in a quantum jump for application of electrochemical technology in electronics and MEMS.

Dr. Lubomyr T Romankiw is an IBM Fellow at the IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY, where he has been associated since 1962. He received his early education in Ukraine, his B. Sc in Chem. Eng. from U of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada in 1957, and his M. Sc.and Ph.D. degrees in Metallurgy and Materials from MIT in 1962. He holds 57 patents, has over 120 published inventions, published more than 150 scientific papers, six book chapters and has edited ten volumes of symposia proceedings in the areas of: (1) Magnetic Materials, Processes and Devices; and (2) Electrochemistry in Electronics. His research has dealt with nearly all aspects of electroless plating, electroplating, etching, lithography and micro-fabrication used in electronics. He pioneered plating through mask technology used in thin film heads in magnetic storage, and conceived and developed the entire fabrication process, which to this day, is the basis for manufacturing of magnetic storage heads around the world. He developed an entirely new approach to use of lithography and micro-fabrication techniques, applied them to magnetic head fabrication and then extended them to X-ray lithography mask fabrication, plating of thin film chip carriers, C-4 interconnects, and to copper metallization of silicon chips.

Dr. Lubomyr T. Romankiw

Dr. Romankiw is very active in the Electrochemical Society and AESF. Has organized ten major scientific symposia. He is a member of ECS, ISE, AESF, IEEE, SPIE, Shevchenko Sci. Soc., Ukrainian Eng. Soc., and the Engineering Academy of Ukraine. He is ECS Fellow, IEEE Fellow, IBM Fellow, and an Honorary member of the ECS and of the Shevchenko Scientific Society .He shared ECS Research Award for his invention of laser enhanced plating. He holds many IBM, US National and International Outstanding Invention and Contribution Awards

For his seminal contributions to magnetic storage technologies Dr. Romankiw received one of the highest honors of ECS, the Vittoria de Nora Medal of the ECS in 1994, one of the highest honors of the IEEE, the Morris A. Lieberman Award and he was named an IEEE Fellow in 1996. “For his major contributions to science, technology and in particular for demonstrating manufacturing worthy processes which created a $7 billion dollar thin film head industry”, he was awarded in 1993 the highest honor of the Societies of Chemical Industries the PERKIN GOLD MEDAL.

Throughout this presentation, Dr. Romankiw kept the audience engaged and involved with a balance of highly technical material and practical real-world problem examples, and especially with his enthusiasm and excitement still evident after four decades of cutting-edge research on this topic.

The evening finished with informal and convivial discussions over food and drinks.

This was the fifth in a series of engineering & scientific lectures presented by the New York City Chapter of the Ukrainian Engineers' Society during the 2003/2004 year. Next year there are plans for another series of informative and high-caliber lectures to be presented; schedule will be posted shortly.

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