LightScribe is an optical disc recording technology that utilizes specially coated recordable CD and DVD media to produce laser-etched labels.
LightScribe is a registered trademark of the Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. LightScribe was conceived by an HP engineer (Daryl Anderson) in Corvallis, Oregon, and brought to market through the joint design efforts of HP's imaging and optical storage divisions.
The purpose of LightScribe is to allow users to create direct-to-disc labels (as opposed to stick-on labels), using their optical disc writer. Special discs and a compatible disc writer are required. After burning data to the read-side of the disc, the user simply turns the media over and inserts it with the label side down. The drive's laser then etches into the label side in such a way that an image is produced (see below).
The surface of a LightScribe disc is coated with a reactive dye that changes color when it absorbs 780nm infrared laser light. The etched label will show no noticeable fading under exposure to indoor lighting for at least 9 months. Optical media should always be stored in a protective sleeve or case that keeps the data content in the dark and safe from scratches. If properly stored as such, the label should show no noticeable change for much longer than 9 months in real-world application.
LightScribe labels burn in concentric circles, moving outward from the center of the disc. Images with the largest diameters will take longest to burn.
Initially LightScribe was monochromatic, a grey etch on a gold looking surface. From late 2006, LightScribe discs are also available in colors for categorization. The "burning" is still monochromatic, but the background colors can now be produced in various colors, under the v1.2 specification.
Currently it's not possible to rewrite a LightScribe label but it's possible to add more content to a label that is already burned.
The center of every LightScribe disc has a special code that allows the drive to know the precise rotational position of the disc. This in combination with the drive hardware allows it to know the precise position from the center outwards, and the disc can be labeled while spinning at high speed using these references. It also serves a secondary purpose: The same disc can be labeled with the same label again, several times. Each successive labeling will darken the blacks and generally produce a better image, and the successive burns will line up perfectly. However it is recommended to use the contrast utility to modify your printing parameters and have images with higher contrast. The "contrast utility" can be removed afterwards.