Use of isotopes in carbon dating
When an organism dies, it stops absorbing the radioactive isotope and immediately starts decaying (7).
As previously mentioned, the half life of the C isotope is 5,730 years - this means that it takes 5,730 years to reach half the radioactivity that the organism had at the point of death, another 5,730 years to reach 25% radioactivity it had at the point of death and so on.
AMS works slightly differently; it converts the atoms of the sample into fast-moving ions so that they become charged atoms.
By applying magnetic and electrical fields, the mass of these ions is measured and the accelerator is used to remove ions that might contaminate the dating.
technology columnist David Pogue explores how isotopes of carbon can be used to determine the age of once-living matter. The difference between them is the number of neutrons in the nucleus.
Today, the radiocarbon-14 dating method is used extensively in environmental sciences and in human sciences such as archaeology and anthropology.The next big step in the radiocarbon dating method would be Accelerated Mass Spectrometry which was developed in the late 1980s and published its first results in 1994 (3).This was a giant leap forward in that it offered far more accurate dates for a far smaller sample (9); this made destruction of samples a far less delicate issue to researchers, especially on artefacts such as The Shroud of Turin for which accurate dates were now possible without damaging a significant part of the artefact.Typically, a Master's Degree in chemistry is required because of the extensive lab work.Increasingly though, students are learning about the principles of radiocarbon dates in archaeology, palaeontology and climate science degrees and can combine cross-disciplinary studies.
Radiocarbon dating is simply a measure of the level of C isotopes in the atmosphere can vary.