Surface modification of magnetic recording heads using plasma immersion ion implantation and deposition is disclosed. This method may be carried out using a vacuum arc deposition system with a metallic or carbon cathode. By operating a plasma gun in a long-pulse mode and biasing the substrate holder with short pulses of a high negative voltage, direct ion implantation, recoil implantation, and surface deposition are combined to modify the near-surface regions of the head or substrate in processing times which may be less than 5 min. The modified regions are atomically mixed into the substrate. This surface modification improves the surface smoothness and hardness and enhances the tribological characteristics under conditions of contact-start-stop and continuous sliding. These results are obtained while maintaining original tolerances.
This invention was made with government support under Grant Nos. MSS-8996309 and DE-AC03-76SF-00098 awarded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.