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Thanks to nuclear physics, mass spectrometers have been fine-tuned to separate a rare isotope from an abundant neighboring mass, and accelerator mass spectrometry was born.
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).
Due to the sensitivity of accelerator mass spectrometers, carbon dating small particles like blood particles, a grain, or a seed have been made possible.
Accelerator mass spectrometry also takes less time to analyze samples for carbon 14 content compared to radiometric dating methods that can take one or two days.
Radiometric dating methods detect beta particles from the decay of carbon 14 atoms while accelerator mass spectrometers count the number of carbon 14 atoms present in the sample.
Both carbon dating methods have advantages and disadvantages.
At this stage, other negatively charged atoms are unstable and cannot reach the detector.
The negatively charged carbon atoms, however, move on to the stripper (a gas or a metal foil) where they lose the electrons and emerge as the triple, positively charged carbon atoms.
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.
From these data, concentration ratio of the isotopes can be known to allow evaluation of the level of fractionation.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating