Perturbation and modal-analysis methods were employed to systematically study a damped slider’s dynamic characteristics, including an air-bearing slider’s stiffness, damping coefficient, frequency response to translation and wavy motion, natural frequencies, damping ratios, and modal shape-node line. We found that a design with grooves distributed on a trailing pad effectively improved the slider’s damping ratio in the second pitch mode; however, parametric studies revealed that the damping ratio was dependent on the number of grooves, their depth, location, width, length, distribution, orientation, and types. A higher damping ratio could be obtained by optimizing these parameters. The femto slider we designed with distributed damped grooves on a trailing pad had a higher damping ratio in the second pitch mode, and hence, its responses in the second pitch mode were greatly reduced, which were clarified through simulation and an experiment. Some issues on air-bearing stiffness reduction and negative damping at low frequency and contamination and lube pickup on the damped grooves were also evaluated in the experiment. No degradation could be found in the damped slider.

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