One of the most critical elements making up a disk storage system is the air bearing interface located between the magnetic transducer and the disk surface on which data is stored and retrieved. The air film provided between the slider which houses the transducer and the disk serves to eliminate contact and wear of the solid surfaces and in addition must be extremely thin (on the order of 1/4 micron) in order to achieve a high density of data storage. Two of the most sought after properties of this lubricating film are a low generated load and high fluid stiffness. Low load allows the slider to be in contact with the disk when it is started and stopped, while high stiffness tends to provide a nearly uniform air bearing clearance which is important for reliable and efficient data storage and retrieval. The Zero-Load slider incorporates both low load and high stiffness in a single bearing. In this paper, the flying characteristics of the Zero-Load slider are discussed and its potential is explored. Numerical simulations which are presented for both static and dynamic operation indicate that the Zero-Load slider should be a strong contender for application in high performance disk files.

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