Magnetic recording disk carbon overcoats are lubricated with nanometer thick films of perfluoropolyether lubricant. It is well-known that lubricant thickness redistribution takes place due to air shear stress oscillation at air bearing resonant frequencies and also due to shear stress oscillation induced by disk topography waves on test tracks. We extended this work to demonstrate correlation between surface topography and lubricant redistribution on whole disk surfaces. Lubricant moguls are shown to form over regions of the disk surface which have topography waves that are half the slider length, and the lubricant thickness peak is out of phase down track from the topography peak height. There is a critical relative humidity above 20% beyond which moguls are readily formed by the slider flying at 10 nm without thermal fly height control. The significance of the lubricant redistribution for drive magnetic performance has long been the subject of debate. These results demonstrate that lubricant thickness redistribution on the order of atomic diameters can degrade magnetic performance, and that the surface topography waves alone can degrade areal density by as much as 2%.

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