Carbon dating equipment
Archaeologists, environmental scientists, and other researchers produce thousands of potential AMS carbon-14 samples each year, but only two other high-precision AMS facilities exist in the United States, and access to them is limited.
It can take up to six months to have a sample tested.
Carbon-14 dating is a way of determining the age of certain archeological artifacts of a biological origin up to about 50,000 years old.
It is used in dating things such as bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers that were created in the relatively recent past by human activities.
Modern methods in mass spectrometry, far advanced since their development in the 1970s, now enable carbon dating to be applied to a wide range of new problems.
An accelerator then increases the kinetic energy of the carbon ions to 10-30 million electron volts and moves them through a tube where a powerful electromagnet makes them change direction. Because carbon-14 decays over time, the amount of it in a sample indicates the age of the sample.Accelerator mass spectrometry is not dependent upon the radioactive decay.What you’re doing is measuring all of the carbon isotopes in the sample – the 12, 13 and 14 – the accelerator operates like a giant mass spectrometer.A child mummy is found high in the Andes and the archaeologist says the child lived more than 2,000 years ago.
How do scientists know how old an object or human remains are?More traditional uses of carbon dating also benefit from an AMS, because it provides more precise measurements of carbon-14 than other methods, and it can do so with incredibly tiny samples -- as small as 1 milligram.