A scientist, whose discoveries helped shape the storage technology field, is the winner of the 2014 Millennium Technology Prize worth more than $1 million.
Dr. Stuart Parkin was recognized last week by Technology Academy Finland for developing the spin-valve read head, an essential component in the development of larger capacity hard drives over the last 25 years.
Parkin is a research fellow, manager of IBM’s Magnetoelectronics group in California and a consulting professor at Stanford University.
“Who would have known that my invention would one day sit at the heart of today’s cloud, social media and data analytics applications, and affect the way people share information and communicate with each other on the Internet, on our mobile devices and across the world,” Parkin said.
In a hard drive, the read and write heads are mounted on an armature that moves over the surface of the spinning hard disks. The heads pick up and put down bits of data that are stored electromagnetically on the surface of the disks.
The spin-valve read head, developed by Parkin in 1989, is more sensitive than its predecessors and allows for data to be stored at higher densities, greatly increasing the capacity of multiple generations of hard drives over the decades.