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Data Storage on Fingernails

  • Last Updated : 13 Aug, 2020

The data can be stored on the fingernails of humans using Femtosecond laser pulse processing. This was developed by inventor Yoshio Hayasaki. There has been the creation of a lot of data on a day-to-day basis. This has increased in the demand for the creation of technology that can store information using data security mechanisms. To meet the demands of the information storage, Femtosecond is providing a means to develop devices that can even store data on transparent media. 

Apparatus Used

  1. The Femtosecond laser system: This is used for the writing operation on the nails of a person. The laser system consists of an oscillator and an amplifier. The laser from this is directed on the nail to write on it.
  2. The optical microscope with a filtered xenon arc lamp: This is used for the reading operation, to read data from the fingernails. It is used as an exciting source of light. The data is seen through the microscope and then inferred. This is because the written data exhibits fluorescence that is easily understood by the human eye.

Basic Approach 

The basic approach involved in the data storage on the fingernails is the use of a Femtosecond laser system that writes the data on the fingernail and the fluorescence microscope that is used to read the data from the nail. 

  1. Writing: The writing process contains two operations. The first being Adaptive Focusing. Due to this technique, the structure of the nail changes as the molecules on the nails is ionized. The altered parts of the nail are characterized by high fluorescence. The data is written on this part of the nail. The next operation deals with achieving high throughput. This is done by processing the laser in a parallel manner using the spatial light modulator. 
  2. Reading: The reading operation is done by visualization of the luminescence or fluorescence of the fingernail. The Femtosecond pulses increase the fluorescence at the point the rays are radiated by the Femtosecond pulses. The fluorescence of the data is different from the actual fluorescence of the nail. The difference in the fluorescence allows the readers to read the data on the nail. The reading process is executed by using a xenon arc lamp. 

The initial experiments used the human nails that measured 2×2×0.4 millimeter cube. The Ti: Sapphire Oscillator and the Ti: Sapphire amplifier pulses comprise the writing system of the Femtosecond laser. The pulses are then radiated and concentrated on the nails using an objective lens. Each information bit is of 3.1 microns in diameter and is written in a single pulse of fewer than 100 fs. A motorized stage moves the fingernail to make spaces. The spaces are of 5 microns. 

The experiments have been successful at recording data on a piece of nail that is detached from the finger. The experiments are on to store data on the fingernails that are still attached to humans. As technology and science have developed, new and more advanced means of data storage have been invented. Using fingernails is something however, that is not usually thought of, hence we have scientists. 


  1. It is safe and does not cause any side effects on humans.
  2. It is safe from theft and copy.
  3. It has a lifetime of 6 months after which it expires.
  4. Data can be transported in this manner very easily.
  5. It can be used for covert missions.
  6. It can be carried around very easily.
  7. It is a very intelligent way of data storage as most people would not know about it.


  1. Data once written cannot be modified.
  2. It is lost after a span of 6 months.
  3. The breakage of nails may result in data loss or damage.
  4. This technology might not be preferred for mainstream use as it may be considered cumbersome.
  5. Transfer of data is not possible as is the case in other data storage devices such as pen drives.
  6. Diseases relating to bone health may result in deformity or change in the structure of the nails, this might affect the readability of the data on the nails.
  7. The apparatus involved is very expensive.
  8. Data retrieval is manual hence is very time-consuming.

There might be various other parts of the body, where the data can be stored in the future : 

  1. Data storage on the lens of the eye: Data might be stored on the lens using laser holographic etching. The advantage of it would be that biometric authentication can be added with another layer of security by using the data on the lens. The disadvantage would be that the data may not be erased or rewritten rendering the lens data not reusable. Another problem to counter is that the process must not alter the visual capability of humans. 
  2. Data storage on the teeth: Data can be seen to be stored on the teeth in the future. It would be difficult, however, to erase and rewrite the data. Food and mouth fluids might interfere in the writing process. The decay or loss of tooth would also result in loss of data. This type of solution would not be as effective in storing data. 
  3. Data storage on the hair: The hair strands can be used to store data. This would be done using a laser. The difficulty would be in the accessing of data as one would find it extremely difficult to spot the particular among all hair on the head. (This is of course given that the hair is not lost due to hair fall). 

This technology is interesting. It has great future potential once it is adopted by organizations. The secret services might find it handy. The average person might find it difficult to adapt to such a technology or consider it outright unclean. What do you think? Tell us in the comments below. 

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