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The dye of a CD-R is the organic layer which records the actual data.

Here is an overview of all available Dye materials, all organic based:
Dye Material Patent Holder Dye Color
Cyanine Taiyo Yuden Blue
PhtaloCyanine Mitsui Toatsu Chemicals Transparent
Metallized Azo Verbatim/Mitsubishi Blue
Advanced PhtaloCyanine Mitsui Toatsu Chemicals Transparent
Formazan Kodak Japan Limited Light Green

The Formazan Dye is a hybrid Cyanine/PhtaloCyanine combination which has been developed by Kodak.

The different colors which show up when you look at the bottom of the CD-R are a combination of the reflection layer and the dye color (e.g. a Blue dye and a Gold reflection layer will generate a Green colored bottom):

Dye Material
Reflection Layer
Gold Silver
Cyanine Green Green/Blue
PhthaloCyanine Gold -
Metallized Azo - (Dark) Blue
Advanced PthaloCyanine Gold -
Formazan Green -

This is a list of the current Dye Types (the list is not complete yet):

Type Material CD-R Color Manufacturer
0 Cyanine Green
Blue
CMC Magnetics Corporation
Fornet International Pte Ltd.
Fuji Photo Film Co, Ltd
Gigastorage Corporation
Lead Data Inc.
Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation
Ritek Co.
Taiyo Yuden Company Limited
TDK Corporation
Xcitek Inc.
1 Cyanine Green
Blue
Hitachi Maxell, Ltd.
Multi Media Masters & Machinary SA
Pioneer Video Corporation
Taiyo Yuden Company Limited
3 Cyanine Green Pioneer Video Corporation
4 Cyanine Green Computer Support Italy S.R.L
Postech Corp.
5 PhtaloCyanine Gold Kodak Japan Limited
Mitsui Chemicals
Ritek Co.
6 PhtaloCyanine Gold Ricoh Company Limited
7 PhtaloCyanine Gold Kodak Japan Limited
8 Cyanine Green
Blue
CDA - Dateträger Albrechts GmbH
Princo Corporation
PhtaloCyanine Gold Princo Corporation
9 Cyanine Blue Prodisc Technology Inc.
PhtaloCyanine Gold Prodisc Technology Inc.

All other CD-R manufacturers have their CD-R's made by the above companies or they license the patent to be able to make CD-R's.

The color of the CD-R disc is related to the color of the specific dye that was used in the recording layer. This base dye color is modified when the reflective coating (gold or silver) is added. Some of the dye-reflective coating combinations appear green, some appear blue and others appear yellow/gold. Visual differences between various media types are irrelevant from the standpoint of their actual operation. At 780 nm, where CD-R recorders and CD-ROM readers function, the media are, for all intents and purposes, indistinguishable from an optical recording standpoint. They all "look" the same to the devices.

The gold-colored CD-R uses the PhtaloCyanine pigment and a gold reflection layer. As the pigment is transparent, the golden reflection layer shines through the bottom side giving the `golden' look. Compared to the other colored media, the reflection contrast of the golden medium is the highest and the durability of such CD-Rs is said to be over 100 years. As the golden medium's reflective property is the highest, if your friends or customers have problems reading data from any other burnt media, try using the gold medium CD-R.

The green CD-R, the cheapest of the three, uses the Cyanine pigment. By itself, the pigment is blue in color, but together with the gold reflective layer, the bottom appears green. However, cyanine's ability to maintain reflectivity is poor giving it a life span of about 10 years. It also delivers the weakest reflection contrasts and thus can cause read errors when run on old CD-ROM drives.
Lately cyanine formula has been altered which results in a much higher life span (20 to 50 years). The gold reflection layer has also been replaced by a silver reflection layer this make the color of the bottom appear blue.

The blue media is made of Azo pigments. Like cyanine, it is blue in colour but unlike the green CD-R it uses a silver reflection layer which gives the blue colour. Manufacturers claim blue CD-Rs are as durable as golden ones.

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