Building pH Sensors into Paper-Based Small-Molecular Logic Systems for Very Simple Detection of Edges of Objects

Genetically engineered bacteria and reactive DNA networks detect edges of objects, as done in our retinas and as also found within computer vision. We now demonstrate that simple molecular logic systems (a combination of a pH sensor, a photo acid generator, and a pH buffer spread on paper) without any organization can achieve this relatively complex computational goal with good fidelity. This causes a jump in the complexity achievable by molecular logic-based computation and extends its applicability. The molecular species involved in light dose-driven “off–on–off” fluorescence is diverted in the “on” state by proton diffusion from irradiated to unirradiated regions where it escapes a strong quencher, thus visualizing the edge of a mask.