Food Analysis pp 457-470 | Cite as

Mass Spectrometry

  • J. Scott Smith
  • Rohan A. Thakur
Part of the Food Analysis book series (FSTS)


Mass spectrometry (MS) is unique among the various spectroscopy techniques in both theory and instrumentation. As you may recall, spectroscopy involves the interaction of electromagnetic radiation or some form of energy with molecules. The molecules absorb the radiation and produce a spectrum either during the absorption process or as the excited molecules return to the ground state. MS works by placing a charge on a molecule, thereby converting it to an ion in a process called ionization. The generated ions are then resolved according to their mass-to-charge ratio \((m/z)\) by subjecting them to electrostatic fields (mass analyzer) and finally detected. An additional stage of ion fragmentation may be included before detection to elicit structural information in a technique known as tandem MS. The result of ion generation, separation, fragmentation, and detection is manifested as a mass spectrum that can be interpreted to yield molecular weight or structural information. The uniqueness of this process allows the method to be used for both detection and identification of an unknown compound.


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Resource Materials

26.9 Resource Materials

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Food Science InstituteKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  2. 2.Taylor TechnologyPrincetonUSA

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