CD-R Dyes: How to Tell What's What

You’ve seen the references to "gold dye", "green dye", "blue dye", "silver on gold", "silver on silver" as descriptions of CD-R media. It gets rather confusing when trying to understand which is which, even with samples right in front of you.

This way of describing CD-R media originated innocently enough when the industry was younger and gold CD-R media was the only type available. At that time, you could pick up a CD-R, turn it over, and see either a green color or gold color…simple enough.

Much of the confusion started when silver CD-Rs were introduced, changing the apparent color of the dye. Cyanine (blue) dye appears green on gold media and blue on silver mediaPhthalocyanine dye appears transparent on gold media, but light green on silver media. The term "Gold on Gold" is used because the disc looks gold on both sides.

There are three types of dye currently in use for CD-R media:

*Mitsui Chemicals Inc. holds a worldwide patent on phthalocyanine dye.
**Not in widespread use

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