Food Analysis pp 421-442 | Cite as

Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy, Atomic Emission Spectroscopy, and Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry

Part of the Food Analysis book series (FSTS)


Atomic spectroscopy has played a major role in the development of our current database for mineral nutrients and toxicants in foods. When atomic absorption spectrometers became widely available in the 1960s, the development of atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) methods for accurately measuring trace amounts of mineral elements in biological samples paved the way for unprecedented advances in fields as diverse as food analysis, nutrition, biochemistry, and toxicology (1). The application of plasmas as excitation sources for atomic emission spectroscopy (AES) led to the commercial availability of instruments for inductively coupled plasma - atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) beginning in the late 1970s. This instrument has further enhanced our ability to measure the mineral composition of foods and other materials rapidly, accurately, and precisely. More recently, plasmas have been joined with mass spectrometers (MS) to form inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer ICP-MS instruments that are capable of measuring mineral elements with extremely low detection limits. These three instrumental methods have largely replaced traditional wet chemistry methods for mineral analysis of foods, although traditional methods for calcium, chloride, iron, and phosphorus remain in use today (see Chap. 12).


Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy Emission Line Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy Plasma Torch Atomic Absorption Spectrometer 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food ScienceCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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