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How CDs Work

        Tech | Audio

Understanding the CD: Bumps

The elongated bumps that make up the track are each 0.5 microns wide, a minimum of 0.83 microns long and 125 nanometers high. (A nanometer is a billionth of a meter.) Looking through the polycarbonate layer at the bumps, they look something like this:

You will often read about "pits" on a CD instead of bumps. They appear as pits on the aluminum side, but on the side the laser reads from, they are bumps.

The incredibly small dimensions of the bumps make the spiral track on a CD extremely long. If you could lift the data track off a CD and stretch it out into a straight line, it would be 0.5 microns wide and almost 3.5 miles (5 km) long!

To read something this small you need an incredibly precise disc-reading mechanism. Let's take a look at that.


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