An investigation was made of the possibilities of optical recording on bubble-forming metal/thermodegradeable-plastic bilayers incorporated in front-surface trilayer devices. Two distinct types of trilayer device were chosen for study. It was found that a device consisting of a 14 nm-thick metal layer, a 200 nm-thick thermodegradeable-plastic dielectric layer and a 100 nm-thick aluminum layer had promising properties. That is, a power of only 6.5 mW focussed into a 0.8 μm spot at 442 nm (the helium-cadmium laser line) was required to write a 5 MHz-pattern with 50% duty cycle. This pattern is observed with high contrast at 633 nm (the helium-near laser line), where the initial reflectivity is 0.9, and it provides signal to noise in a 30 kHz bandwidth of 45 dB. The trilayer device is also calculated to have the same writing sensitivity at 830 nm (the gallium arsenide laser line).