U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

For Inventive Ibrahim, an Inventor’s Honor

The award casts fresh light on the novel advances that mark PNNL’s mass spectrometry research
In this 2010 photo, inventive instrument maven Yehia Ibrahim works on a new Ion Mobility Spectrometry-Mass Spectrometry system.

At a May 3, 2019 event senior scientist Yehia M. Ibrahim—who holds 17 U.S. patents in mass spectrometry (MS) and ion mobility spectrometry (IMS)—was honored as Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Inventor of the Year.

His patents involve novel MS and IMS technologies that, in the end, have enabled a deeper understanding of living systems.

Mass spectrometers ionize, and then analyze, chemical and biochemical compounds in essentially any sample, from a pinch of soil to a drop of blood. Coupled with separation technologies, such devices are powerful tools for identifying the molecules within a sample.

In PNNL’s biomedical space, Ibrahim’s work has made it easier to get more precise measurements of proteins, metabolites, and lipids.

In the 2000s, he helped improve a PNNL-developed ion funnel that was a breakthrough lab technology in the late 1990s. It helped mass spectrometers become faster and more sensitive analytical tools, and advanced the understanding of complex biomolecules.

Ibrahim was a key researcher in developing a new ultrasensitive IMS-Time of Flight (TOF) platform for biomolecule analysis. It won a 2013 R&D award.

With a research group using the same physics of ion mobility as in the ion funnel, Ibrahim was central to the development of the Structures for Lossless Ion Manipulation (SLIM) technology, which won an R&D 100 award in 2017.

In 2018, Ibrahim was a member of the SLIM team at PNNL that won an award for excellence in technology transfer from the Federal Laboratory Consortium.

The same improved MS technologies Ibrahim and others work on at PNNL have applications beyond health and medicine. For one, they can detect and measure very low levels of compounds of interest to environment and national security researchers.

Not incidentally, the suite of analytical technologies Ibrahim helped invent and develop have resulted in more than $10 million in licensing income for PNNL and Battelle.

The PNNL veteran, who started in 2005, is part of the Biological Sciences Directorate. He came to the lab after a postdoctoral fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he earned his Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 2003. Before that, the Egypt-born Ibrahim earned B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in chemistry at Cairo University.

Date: 
May 2019
| Pacific Northwest National Laboratory