Magnetic microscope recovers damaged data

By Eric Smalley, Technology Research News

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have developed a technique for recovering data from damaged or erased magnetic media like disk drives and audio tapes.

The technique, called second harmonic magneto-resistive microscopy, uses the read-write head of a disk drive to sense and measure minute variations the media's magnetic fields. It scans lines across the media to build a complete image. The images can range in size from a few microns to several inches.

The technique can be used to recover data from digital media -- like damaged flight data recorders -- and analog media -- like mangled snippets of audio tape. The technique can also provide physical evidence of tampering. It has not been certified for use in court, however.

The technique is "very high-resolution and it gives you the strength and the polarity of the magnetic fields, which allows you to play sound back directly from the image," said David Pappas, a physicist at NIST. Pappas developed the magnetic microscope with NTIA's Steve Voran.

Timeline:   Now
Funding:   Government
TRN Categories:   Data Storage Technology
Story Type:   News
Related Elements:   Photo


July 19, 2000

Page One

Hearing between the lines

Search tool finds answers before queries

Scatter could boost fiber capacity

Software makes data really sing

Magnetic microscope recovers damaged data


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