The head-disk spacing in current hard disk drives is approximately 1–2 nm. This distance is on the same order as the peak to valley surface roughness of a typical thin film disk. If one attempts to reduce the head-disk spacing even more, intermittent contacts between the slider and the disk are more likely to occur. Intermittent contacts are undesirable since they can result in slider and disk wear, lubricant transfer or degradation of the read and write elements.

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