A University of Nebraska-Lincoln research team lead by Alexei Gruverman and in cooperation with researchers in Spain and at the University of Wisconsin have discovered a new way of writing data onto ferroelectric surfaces, such as those used in HDDs. Normally, data is stored by passing a HDD head over the surface and modulating the magnetic polarity but the researchers found a way to do it by using a tiny mechanic pressure rather than relying on electrical voltage to store the information.
Full details in the university's press release.
Normally, data is stored by passing a tiny electromagnet (the HDD's "head") over the surface and modulating the magnetic polarity of the ferroelectric material by changing the magnetic polarity of this head by passing a current through a coil of wire which forms it. In this case however, a tiny 10nm-sized probe physically presses against the ferroelectic material, in a similar way to an electron microscope and the tiny mechanic pressure exerted by the probe allows it to write data to the material. "It's a completely voltage-free switching of polarization, which is what makes the results of this research unique," Gruverman said. A key advantage of this method is high data density and the establishment of an alternate way to write data. It's still very much in the research phase. There's lots more detail about this in the press release linked to below.