How do CD-RWs rewriteable CDs work?

From How CDs Work, you learn that a normal CD uses microscopic bumps to store data. The surface of the CD is a mirror, and the bumps disrupt the mirror’s perfect surface. The laser that reads the CD can detect the difference between a perfect mirror and an imperfection caused by a bump because of the difference in reflectivity. By interpreting “perfect mirror” as a “1,” and “bump” as a “0,” it is easy to store digital information on a CD. The bumps on a CD are molded into the plastic when it is manufactured, so they are permanent.
How do CD-RWs rewriteable CDs work
To create a writeable CD (CD-R), you need to modify the surface of a CD so you can burn data onto it, turning it into a CD-R. There are no bumps on a CD-R. A clear dye layer covers the CD’s mirror. A write laser heats up the dye layer enough to make it opaque. The read laser in a CD player senses the difference between clear dye and opaque dye the same way it senses bumps — it picks up on the difference in reflectivity.
To create a rewriteable CD (CD-RW), you need a dye layer that can be changed back and forth between opaque and transparent. This page discusses the special material that CD-RW’s use. The material has the property that it can change its transparency depending on temperature. Heated to one temperature, the material cools to a transparent state; heated to another temperature, it cools to a cloudy state. By changing the power (and therefore the temperature) of the writing laser, the data on the CD can be changed, or “rewritten.”
For more detail: How do CD-RWs rewriteable CDs work?

About The Author

Ibrar Ayyub

I am an experienced technical writer holding a Master's degree in computer science from BZU Multan, Pakistan University. With a background spanning various industries, particularly in home automation and engineering, I have honed my skills in crafting clear and concise content. Proficient in leveraging infographics and diagrams, I strive to simplify complex concepts for readers. My strength lies in thorough research and presenting information in a structured and logical format.

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