Analysis of human nails by laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy

J Biomed Opt. 2011 May;16(5):057002. doi: 10.1117/1.3574757.


Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) is applied to analyze human fingernails using nanosecond laser pulses. Measurements on 45 nail samples are carried out and 14 key species are identified. The elements detected with the present system are: Al, C, Ca, Fe, H, K, Mg, N, Na, O, Si, Sr, Ti as well as CN molecule. Sixty three emission lines have been identified in the spectrum that are dominated by calcium lines. A discriminant function analysis is used to discriminate among different genders and age groups. This analysis demonstrates efficient discrimination among these groups. The mean concentration of each element is compared between different groups. Correlation between concentrations of elements in fingernails is calculated. A strong correlation is found between sodium and potassium while calcium and magnesium levels are inversely correlated. A case report on high levels of sodium and potassium in patients with hyperthyroidism is presented. It is shown that LIBS could be a promising technique for the analysis of nails and therefore identification of health problems.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lasers*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nails / chemistry*
  • Nails / physiology*
  • Spectrum Analysis / instrumentation*
  • Young Adult