I want to store a Public Key of an Ethereum address in a contract. What is the advisable primitive datatype to store a Public Key?

  1. Should I store as String or Bytes32?
  2. Is it secure to store a Public Key in a contract? I know it is PUBLIC key, but still...I want to know any pitfalls that I should be mindful of.



Always store keys as bytes since strings in some languages are known to be terminated by null value bytes. You can use a bytes32 attribute to store the key and a getter method to retrieve it from the deployed (instantiated) contract:

contract PubKey {
         bytes32 pubKey;

         function PubKey(bytes32 initKey) {
             pubKey = initKey;

         function getPubKey() constant returns (bytes32) {

            return pubKey;



The public key is 64 bytes long excluding its prefix:

contract PubKey {
    uint8[] pubKeyBytes;

    function PubKey(uint8[] initKey) {
       for(uint i = 0; i < initKey.length; i++) {

function getPubKeyByte(uint i) constant returns (uint) {
    return pubKeyBytes[i];

This is expensive since each retrieval of the public key must be called 64 times. using two 32 byte chunks is cheaper (but uglier):

contract PubKey {
     bytes32 pubKeyHalf1, pubKeyHalf2;

     function PubKey(bytes32 initKeyHalf1, bytes32 initKeyHalf2) {
         pubKeyHalf1 = initKeyHalf1;
         pubKeyHalf2 = initKeyHalf2;

     function getPubKeyHalf1() constant returns (bytes32) {
        return pubKeyHalf1;

     function getPubKeyHalf2() constant returns (bytes32) {
        return pubKeyHalf2;
  • Thanks for your response. I also have a follow up question. How would the accessor function look like? Let's say...function getPubKey() returns (bytes32), should we reconstruct into bytes32 before returning back the PubKey?
    – etherfaces
    Aug 2 '16 at 13:53
  • @etherfaces ask additional questions as new threads. Thats the recommended way,
    – niksmac
    Aug 2 '16 at 15:49
  • I've updated the answer.
    – Sebi
    Aug 2 '16 at 15:55
  • In the getPubKey function, the line: (byte) (key[i]) = pubKey[i] gives error. Looks like the syntax is invalid. I'll post a new question on how to convert byte array to bytes32 in solidity.
    – etherfaces
    Aug 3 '16 at 9:29
  • 1
    But you can still store public key compressed, no? Is there really no better way to do this than two bytes32's? @jasper: Addresses are only 20 bytes. Not enough room.
    – jMyles
    Jun 4 '18 at 20:20

You can also store the public key in bytes variable, but that will consume more gas. In my simple test, storing a public key in two bytes32 variables uses ~ 67,000 gas, and storing it in one bytes variable uses ~85,000 gas

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