Firefly Tattoos (Subdermal tritium lighting implants)
Subdermal tritium lighting implants, or Firefly Tattoos as they are called, use the decay of tritium gas to make glow-in-the-dark implants. Tritium gas decays and emits beta radiation which collides with phosphor and emits photons. Tritium lights are used in watches, gun scopes and emergency exit signs. Standard tritium lights are safe to handle but do emit a small amount of ionizing radiation, which makes them unsafe to implant within the body. By applying a specially designed coating containing a layer of lead oxide glass, we are able to reduce the radiation emitted and make implant safe lights. Firefly Tattoo implants run for many years without the need to be recharged, provide a striking glow in the dark implant, and are small enough to implant using an injection.
(my hand showing the healed implant at night, long exposure was used to get a good picture)
How bright are they?
The images in this post should give you some idea of how bright they are, but to give you some examples: In full darkness they are eye catching from across a room. In a dimly lit room they are visible but do not stand out. In a brightly lit room and outdoors during daylight they are not visible at all. This has pros and cons; being invisible in fully lit areas means you can’t show them off as much, but it also means people who work in customer facing roles won’t have to remove or cover them up like they do with piercings and tattoos.
How long will the light last?
Tritium as 12 year half life. This means that after 12 years the implant will be half as bright, after 24 years it will be half as bright again. Obviously given the Firefly Tattoos are new we don’t know exactly how long they will remain visible for, however after 6 years the implant will still retain 75% brightness, which should still be visible.
Will this give me cancer?
It is extremely unlikely, but any exposure to even the smallest amount of radiation increases the odds of getting cancer. We believe that this implant is safe enough that people don’t need to be concerned, but ultimately you need to make your own informed decision.
Will these set off security detectors?
No, since the radiation is being shielded to make the implant safe, it also stops it from being detected. Only an xray would allow someone to see there is an implant, but even then they would not know it is a Firefly Tattoo. However, by examining you in the dark, it would be obvious.
I’m black/Indian/have darker skin, will the lights work for me?
The short answer is we don’t know yet. So far all tests have been done on caucasians, obviously higher melanin levels block more light, so the implants will not work as well in darker skin. They may not be visible at all, or if they are visible, they will be dimmer than in people with pale skin. You are welcome to try anyway, but the result will not be as impressive as in the example pictures. If you do try, please let us know your results.
The long story of how these were developed:
In early 2014 I had an idea. I’d been thinking about implantable LED lights, somewhat similar to the NorthStar (although it didn’t exist at the time), one of the big issues was power, batteries are dangerous, they take lots of room and need recharging often. Then I thought of those cool glow in the dark keychain lights, they use Tritium gas to glow for decades without the need to be charged. I thought it would be really cool to implant one of those lights, my skin would glow indefinitely. I did some reading, and talked to some friends about it, they thought it was a cool idea, but were unsure of the light would be bright enough to be seen through the skin.
I decided to buy a few tritium vials and to do some tests, in true DIY grinder spirit I went to the local supermarket and bought some chicken drumsticks with skin on, I then slid vials under the skin and turned out the lights. The result was very encouraging, the vial was clearly visible through the chicken skin. But I was still not sure how well this experiment would translate to implanting in my own body. After all, chicken skin may be much thinner or more transparent than human skin and the chicken was dead, live skin may block far more light.
(picture of the vials in a piece of chicken)