Tuesday, July 19, 2005

No More Nail-Biting Experiences!!!

This is one interesting information one of my colleagues – Hiri – sent me. Apparently Japanese have achieved data storage on human finger nail. Not small amount!! . We are talking reasonable volume here – about 5 mega bits. If you use the technique developed by Yoshio Hayasaki and colleagues at Tokushima University, you can store dat for up to six months on your nail (by which time your body would have anyway more or less replaced your finger nails).

I have some odd thoughts on the whole idea. Does the 5 megabits figure correspond to only one nail? Can my wife, who grows her nail really long (apparently long nails add to the beauty to feminine gender in this parts of the world!) store more data on her nails than me? Would people who have the habit of biting nails be disadvantaged in this scenario (No more nail biting experiences Tim!)? How are you going to plug in your data disk (or more precisely your nail) into the computer for data read and write?

Well, lucky me, some of the above questions already have clear answers available. To understand this data storage technique, you need to look at the technology involved. The team uses a femtosecond (10-15 seconds) laser system to write the data into the nail. The nail's fluorescence increases at the point irradiated by the femtosecond pulses. You just have to use a fluorescence microscope to read the data. Sounds fairly simple?!! Cross-talk between data stored at different depths is prevented by appropriately setting distance between the planes.
The bad news is that so far the experiments were limited to small pieces of (detached) nail. We need to wait and watch some more time before this technology enables us to use our nails (while being attached to our very own fingers) in place of the USB drive!!


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