Time capsule: an autonomous sensor and recorder based on diffusion–reaction
We describe the use of chemical diffusion and reaction to record temporally varying chemical information as spatial patterns without the need for external power. Diffusion of chemicals acts as a clock, while reactions forming immobile products possessing defined optical properties perform sensing and recording functions simultaneously. The spatial location of the products reflects the history of exposure to the detected substances of interest. We refer to our device as a time capsule and show an initial proof of principle in the autonomous detection of lead ions in water.