Tip Of The PVD Iceberg
Here we see the Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) tool use to deposit the Tunneling Magneto-Resistive (TMR) stack. The TMR stack consists of several layers of complex materials, each of which has a thickness measured in angstroms. The thinnest of them is less than 10 angstroms, so incredible precision and control over the process is essential. According to WD, the TMR stack is the most critical component of the reader portion of the read-write head.
It’s difficult to convey how imposing these machines are. Standing next to it, I’d say the PVD tool has a footprint large enough to fill my living room. However, the loading and unloading interface with the machine is done via the outside hallway through a little door, sort of like the exposed tip of an iceberg. Many of the tools in this building have such loading gateways, designed to minimize and automate human interaction with the machines and thus reduce the chance of variables and accidents in the process. Monitoring and control terminals usually sit alongside the loading gate. On the right, you can see Heather using one of these to check her email (kidding).