I am a quantum engineer interested in how quantum physics informs biology at the nanoscale. As a physicist, I have developed high-performance nanosensors that essentially worked due to room-temperature quantum effects in noisy environments. Currently, I am focusing on “living sensors” — organisms and cells that respond to minute stimuli, routinely outperforming technological probes in awe-inspiring ways. Unveiling and controlling the underlying physical mechanisms employed by “living sensors” impact: the engineering of ultrasensitive, bio-inspired electromagnetic probes; the elucidation of mesmerizing natural feats such as animal navigation; and the advancement of therapeutics for metabolic-related diseases.
Substantial in vitro and physiological experimental results are consistent with the fact that similar spin physics might underlie biosensing modalities as varied as organismal magnetic field detection and metabolic regulation of oxidative stress in cells.
Can spin physics be established — or refuted! — to account for physiologically relevant biosensing phenomena, and be manipulated to technological and therapeutical advantage? This is the broad, exciting question that I wish to address in my scientific career.
Clarice D. Aiello is a quantum engineer born and raised in Brazil. She trained as an experimental physicist in Europe, having earned a Diplome d’Ingenieur de l’Ecole Polytechnique in France, and an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge, Trinity College, in England. Research brought Clarice to the American shore. She completed her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at MIT with Prof. Paola Cappellaro. Her work has been funded by sources as diverse as the Fulbright Commission, the Schlumberger Foundation and UNESCO. Clarice is also a recipient of MIT’s School of Engineering’s “Graduate Student Award for Extraordinary Teaching and Mentoring”. Clarice then undertook postdoctoral research with Prof. Naomi Ginsberg, in the Chemistry Department of the University of California at Berkeley. Currently, Clarice is a Life Sciences Research Foundation/Moore Foundation postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Manu Prakash, in Stanford University’s Bioengineering Department. She has recently been chosen as a “Rising Star in Physics”, and intends to invest her interdisciplinary training to investigate how quantum physics informs biology at the nanoscale.