Interactions at the head-tape interface of a linear tape system
Many of the recent improvements in the capacity of data cartridge systems have been achieved through the use of narrower tracks, higher linear densities and continuous servo tracking with multi-channel heads. These changes have produced new tribological problems at the head/tape interface. It is crucial that the tribology of such systems is understood and this will continue since increasing storage capacities and faster transfer rates are constantly being sought. Chemical changes in the surface of single and dual layer MP tape have been correlated to signal performance. An accelerated tape tester, consisting of a custom made cycler ("loop tester"), was used to ascertain if results could be produced that were representative of a real tape drive system. A second set of experiments used a modified tape drive (Georgens cycler), which allowed the effects of the tape transport system on the tape surface to be studied. To isolate any effects on the tape surface due to the head/tape interface, read/write heads were not fitted to the cycler. Two further sets of experiments were conducted which included a head in the tape path. This allowed the effects of the head/tape interface on the physical and chemical properties of the head and tape surfaces to be investigated. It was during the final set of experiments that the effect on the head/tape interface, of an energised MR element, was investigated. The effect of operating each cycler at extreme relative humidity and temperature was investigated through the use of an environmental chamber. Results showed that cycling improved the signal performance of all the tapes tested. The data cartridge drive belt had an effect on the chemical properties of the tape surface on which it was in contact. Also binder degradation occurred for each tape and appeared to be greater at higher humidity. Lubricant was generally seen to migrate to the tape surface with cycling. Any surface changes likely to affect signal output occurred at the head surface rather than the tape.