February 20, 2006
Stanley Charap, an emeritus professor of ECE, was chosen for the College of Engineering's Outstanding Research Award. The honor recognizes an exceptional research contribution that has enhanced the college's reputation in a global or national context and received significant praise from experts in the field. Charap was nominated for his micromagnetic modeling research in the late 1990s proving if hard disk drive scaling continued at the current rate, the industry had only about five years before area storage density would hit the superparamagnetic limit, becoming thermally unstable.
"The Charap-Lu model made linkages to realistic performance parameters of recording heads and media, and predicted specific results for the density at which the instabilities would be observable," reported the August 1998 National Storage Industry Consortium (NSIC) Newsletter. Charap conducted the modeling studies with his former student Pu-Ling Lu, who is now at Seagate. Their calculations quantified the superparamagnetic limit for the first time and suggested alternatives to circumvent it.
In 1995, Charap was associate director of Carnegie Mellon's Data Storage Systems Center (DSSC) and ECE Professor Mark Kryder directed the center. Prompted by Charap's findings, academia, industry, and the government all partnered together in extensive research effort to overcome the newly understood physical limit. Kryder led a workshop for NSIC, which then launched a collaborative research program with industry and the National Science Foundation (NSF). One of the first research grants through this endeavor was awarded to Charap's group at Carnegie Mellon.
"I believe it is safe to say that the implications of Stan Charap's seminal work are still helping to drive progress in the field today," wrote Paul Frank, Executive Director of the Information Storage Industry Consortium (INSIC), the successor to NSIC. Because of Charap's work, the data storage industry recognized that the superparamagnetic limit was higher with perpendicular recording than with longitudinal recording.
"This is an extremely timely time to present Stan with this award, since because of his paper, the limits he projected have been eclipsed and we are now introducing perpendicular recording into the marketplace," wrote Kryder. In addition to his role as an ECE faculty member, Kryder is also Chief Technical Officer and Senior Vice President of Research for Seagate.
Kevin O'Grady, president of the IEEE Magnetics Society, and a physics professor at the University of York in the United Kingdom, also noted that Charap's breakthrough continues to influence the field: "It is rare that someone writes seminal papers in a rapidly advancing area of technology which are still referred to routinely some 15 years later," wrote O'Grady. "...From my perspective I am sure there is hardly an engineer working in this area who is not aware of this original work in defining this limitation."
Jimmy Zhu, the ABB Professor of ECE and the current director of the DSSC, added: "This research has made an invaluable contribution to the continued advancement of the $60 billion revenue of the hard disk drive industry."
An active member of Carnegie Mellon's faculty from 1968 until his retirement at the end of 1996, Charap served as co-acting department head of ECE from 1981-82. The 1980s ushered in an exciting era for the advancement of magnetics research in the department. In 1982, Charap was a founding member of the Magnetics Technology Center, which was the forerunner of the DSSC. He served as associate department head from (1980-85) and as associate director of the DSSC from its formation in 1990 until his retirement.
Throughout his career and continuing into retirement, Charap has been a leader in the IEEE Magnetics Society, serving in many positions including president of the society. He has served as general chair of both major magnetics conferences, was a Magnetics Society Distinguished Lecturer, and was the editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Magnetics for four years. In 1998, he received both the Technical Achievement from NSIC and the Achievement Award from the IEEE Magnetics Society. In 2000, he was awarded the IEEE Millennium Medal.
Bill Doyle, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Alabama, summarized the impact of Charap's research: "The work of Professor Charap and his students represents a singular achievement in the history of magnetic storage."
Charap will be honored for the Outstanding Research Award at a banquet later in the spring with other faculty award winners from Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering, including ECE professors Tsuhan Chen and Daniel Stancil.