Thermal flying-height control (TFC) is now a key technology used in hard disk drives (HDD) to push the magnetic spacing to sub-5nm. The precise control of the flying height (FH) actuation is a major consideration in improving the read/write capability as well as increasing the reliability. In this paper, we investigate the response of TFC sliders to altitude change with a focus on the actuation efficiency variation with altitude. Numerical and experimental results both indicated an increase in the actuation efficiency at higher altitudes. Simulations are conducted which disclose that increased protrusion and less pushback near the transducer contribute to the efficiency increase at higher altitudes. This study is of practical importance for improving the heater and ABS designs to reduce HDD sliders’ sensitivities to altitude changes.

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