Dye Breakthrough Allows Mass Production of HD DVD-R Discs

The pending war between two incompatible high-definition DVD formats is about to get hotter. A group of four manufacturers has announced the successful development of a prototype of an HD DVD-R disc (as with CDs, the "R" signifies "once-recordable") that apparently can be produced at high volume on today's standard DVD-R production lines.

Japanese manufacturers Hitachi Maxell and Mitsubishi Kagaku Media/Verbatim have separately tested the practicality of mass-producing the HD discs, using a new organic dye specifically developed for blue-laser applications. The new dye is the result of a joint development project by Hayashibara Biochemical Labs, Mitsubishi and Toshiba. (Blu-ray is a second, incompatible, format from Sony ). The companies plan to begin mass-producing the HD DVD discs next spring to coincide with their launch of HD recorders and PCs with built-in HD DVD drives.

Standard DVD-R discs use a photo-sensitive organic dye as a data storage medium in the disc's recording layer. In the transition to the HD DVD format, manufacturers had to meet the challenge of developing a dye for discs that could be used with the narrow wavelength of a blue laser. The new dye is highly sensitive to blue laser light, provides sufficient readout stability, and has the solubility in organic solvent required for production of the dye recording layer by a spin-coating process.

Since the HD DVD-R disc is based on the same structure as standard DVD discs (back-to-back bonding of two 0.6 mm-thick substrates), existing DVD-R assembly lines can use the new dye.