M-DISC YOUR LIFE. ENGRAVED IN STONE.
The phrase "rock-like" is used to describe the M-DISC data layer, yet the disc is obviously not made
of rock. So why is this description appropriate? Is this more than a clever marketing ploy? The answer is
yes, much more. The M-DISC data layer has several properties comparable to those of common rocks.
The composition of the data layer, its morphology, and the changes it undergoes during the data-writing
process all present intriguing parallels to rock. Rocks are composed of inorganic materials that are typically
oxides of metals and metalloids. Common compounds found in rocks include silicon dioxide, aluminum
oxide, alumino-silicates, and more. Many more-complex compounds are also common, including elements
such as carbon, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, iron and other metals, and so on. All of these compounds are
solid from well below room temperature to upwards of a thousand degrees Celsius in most cases, and they
are all chemically stable against oxidation, the effects of water, and other corrosive or aggressive chemical
The Inorganic Data Layer
The M-DISC data layer has many of the same characteristics.
It is composed entirely of inorganic materials and compounds
including metals and metalloids. It contains several of the
materials and compounds common to rocks including oxides of
silicon and rare-earth metals. It is a solid from room temperature
to upwards of 500°C, and it is stable in the presence of oxygen,
nitrogen, water, and other deleterious chemicals that may be
found in ordinary storage environments.
Data Layer Physical Structure
The M-DISC morphology, or physical structure, also has characteristics analogous to common rocks. It includes
multiple layers of dissimilar materials, like common sedimentary and some igneous rocks. The comparison
even makes sense on the microscopic scale, where the written M-DISC can be described as an aggregate of
ordered, polycrystalline regions and amorphous or glassy regions. The engraved "pits" in the M-DISC that
hold the digital data are also like the void structures that can be found in many igneous rocks such as pumice
Engraving Data in Stone
Finally, the inorganic M-DISC data layer materials undergo physical change during the write process in the
same way that rock materials change under the influence of heat and other geologic processes. When the
data layer is written by a focused laser, the intense heat generated causes the innermost layers to melt and to
move away from the laser spot, creating a hole in the data layer. The materials found in rocks would react to the
laser in a similar way, melting, flowing or ablating away, in contrast with the organic dyes used in typical DVDs,
which would merely decompose under the same thermal conditions. Furthermore, when the melted portions
of the M-DISC data layer cool after writing, the material surrounding the written voids forms a polycrystalline
structure that is again reminiscent of the microcrystalline structure of many common rocks.
Permanent by Design
In summary, a comparison of the M-DISC data layer to natural rock is valid on many points. This is not by
accident. The intent of the scientists and engineers who developed the M-DISC was to develop the modern,
digital equivalent of engraving in stone. The characteristics and features that enable a rock to survive for
tens of thousands of years without change were the inspiration behind the product. It isn't by
chance that the M-DISC data layer is similar to a rock - it's by design.
For additional information about this product line, please go to our M-DISC Information Page.
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