Carnegie Mellon University

Jim Bain

Jim Bain

Associate Department Head for Academic Affairs
and Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Associate Director, DSSC

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Address 5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Professor James A. Bain received his B.S. (1988) in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.S. (1991) and Ph.D. (1993), also in Materials Science and Engineering, from Stanford University. He is a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department of Carnegie Mellon University. He also holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and is associate director of the Data Storage Systems Center (DSSC). These departments and the DSSC are part of the College of Engineering at CMU. Prof. Bain has co-authored more than 225 papers in the field of magnetic, optical, electrical, thermal, and mechanical devices and materials for information storage. He currently has active research programs in heat assisted magnetic recording, and resistive switches for memory and reconfigurable electronics. He is a member of the Materials Research Society and the IEEE Magnetics, IEEE Electron Devices and IEEE Photonics Societies.

For Professor Bain's most recent 2 page CV you can find the PDF here.


Ph.D., 1993 
Materials Science and Engineering 
Stanford University

M.S., 1991 
Materials Science and Engineering 
Stanford University

B.S.E., 1988 
Materials Science and Engineering 
University of Pennsylvania


Information Storage Systems Physics

As Associate Director of the Data Storage Systems Center at Carnegie Mellon, Professor Bain is interested in storage systems architectures and performance specifications, as they set the requirements for storage devices. Specifically, he is interested in how systems specifications set the performance requirements for recording heads - the transducers that must deliver energy to the recording medium and thus change its state in a reproducible way. Within this context, Bain has been an avid participant in roadmapping and workshops on magnetic disk technology, magnetic tape technology, optical disk technology and probe storage technology.

Thin Films and Devices for Information Storage Systems

Within information storage systems like hard disk drives, tape drives, etc., there are core technologies in thin film materials and devices that are used to fabricate heads and media. Prof Bain has an active research program in the fabrication of and characterization of these materials and devices. Specific examples of recent areas of activity are:

  • Thin film FeCo alloys for high magnetization write poles
  • Magnetic pole dynamics in high speed write heads
  • Very small aperture lasers for near field optical and heat assisted magnetic recording
  • Field emission assisted magnetic probe recording
  • Nanostructured magnetic disk media using self-organized nanomasks
  • Sputtered thin film media for tape using CoCrPt/SiO2 composite media
  • Cr-SrZrO3 materials for resistance switching applications


  • Thin-film magnetic device design, fabrication, and testing
  • Magnetic disk and tape recording