Uses of mass spectrometry in carbon dating

17 Jul

For scientists whose test material is rare, valuable, or extremely hard to collect, that's important.

Douglas Kennett, professor of anthropology at Penn State, recently confirmed a correlation between the Maya Long Count calendar and the European calendar by AMS dating small slivers of wood from a carved Maya lintel.

Fortunately, UC Davis researchers have access to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (CAMS LLNL), one of over 180 AMS research facilities in the world.

Isotope separation is pretty expensive, even because a big improvement in the field can be really dangerous at political-military level.

Lawrence during WWII used calutrons to separate Uranium 238 and 235, but it was really expensive and inefficient.

The positive-to-negative ion conversion is the reverse of that conventionally used in accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) and is compatible with plasma ion sources that may be significantly more efficient and capable of greater output than are AMS sputter ion sources.

My understanding of the limitation of radiometric dating is that background radiation swamps the radiation from C14 once the remaining atoms get few enough in number.