The mission of the Center for Integrated Bio and Nano Systems is to serve as a catalyst for development and support of the nano/bio research agenda, help sustain and manage the existing scholarly activities, demonstrate to the funding agencies the long-term commitment to research at the intersection of bio and nano systems, and bring additional prestige and recognition to the Cullen College of Engineering and the University of Houston. The ongoing trend that is expected to persist for the foreseeable future is to support research conducted by highly interdisciplinary teams committed to invest into the development of specific expertise and resources necessary to conduct efficient research. A strong center that houses expertise in nanomaterials, device nanofabrication, biomolecular chemistry, nanoenergy materials, nanocatalysis, etc. effectively addresses this trend.
The research in the Center for Bio and Nano Systems covers a range of topics related to the development and applications of novel bio and nano materials and devices at nanoscale dimensions. These include battery and catalytic materials, biomolecular sensor technologies, materials and devices directly related to the current and future magnetic storage technologies, magnetic random access memory (MRAM), and magnetic cellular logic (QCA).
Among the investigated issues are fabrication and device physics of magnetic probe heads at nanoscale dimensions (the recording heads with dimensions down to few tens of nanometers have been routinely fabricated using focused ion-beam nanofabrication techniques); development and characterization of nanocrystalline materials for advanced recording media applications; micromagnetic behavior of soft magnetic materials; recording properties of nanocrystalline alloy and superlattice-based media materials; recording processes at nanoscale dimensions, etc. Record track densities in excess of 400ktpi (~60nm track width) were demonstrated using above-mentioned nanoprobe recording heads and specially prepare media. The micromagnetic behavior of magnetic ‘ nanotubes ' was for the first time experimentally observed.
The current research activities are focused on applications of nanocrystalline materials and nanoscale devices for achieving extremely high density recording (above 1Terabit/in 2 ). The current state-of-the-art in magnetic recording is 160x40x10nm magnetic features (corresponding to areal density of 100Gbin/in 2) recorded into a magnetic recording medium. The individual magnetic grains forming the recording medium are ~9nm in diameter. At these dimensions, the conventional recording schemes employed today are rapidly approaching the fundamental (superparamagnetic) limit in areal bit density, above which the recording data become unstable. It is widely believed that longitudinal recording will run out of steam at approximately 200Gbin/in 2 . Perpendicular magnetic recording will enable to sustain the current great strides in technological advances for the next several generations of mass storage solutions. The technology is technically the closest alternative to conventional longitudinal recording, while it is capable of extending the superparamagnetic density limit beyond what is achievable with longitudinal recording. The recording densities above 1Terabit/in 2 (recording features as small as 50x12x10nm) are conceivable utilizing perpendicular recording. To support such a nanoscale technology, major innovations in both magnetic recording heads and media are necessary.
The research at the Center for Integrated Bio and Nano Systems has been supported by the Department of Energy, The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, Office of Naval Research, and Information Storage Industry Consortium.