Start Some uses carbon dating

Some uses carbon dating

At this stage, molecules that may be present are eliminated because they cannot exist in this triple charged state.

Burning the samples to convert them into graphite, however, also introduces other elements into the sample like nitrogen 14.

When the samples have finally been converted into few milligrams of graphite, they are pressed on to a metal disc.

After pretreatment, samples for radiocarbon dating are prepared for use in an accelerator mass spectrometer by converting them into a solid graphite form.

This is done by conversion to carbon dioxide with subsequent graphitization in the presence of a metal catalyst.

Mass spectrometers detect atoms of specific elements according to their atomic weights.

They, however, do not have the sensitivity to distinguish atomic isobars (atoms of different elements that have the same atomic weight, such as in the case of carbon 14 and nitrogen 14—the most common isotope of nitrogen).

An accelerator mass spectrometer, although a powerful tool, is also a costly one.

Establishing and maintaining an accelerator mass spectrometer costs millions of dollars.

An accelerator mass spectrometer has a run time of a few hours per sample.

Lastly, it must be noted that AMS measurements usually achieve higher precision and lower backgrounds than radiometric dating methods.

There are two techniques in measuring radiocarbon in samples—through radiometric dating and by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS).