Also shown are views of bone preparation at the Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory.
DR CHRISTINE PRIOR In conventional radiocarbon dating, you’re measuring the presence of the C-14 when you measure the radioactive decay.
Accelerating the ions to high energy has one more advantage.
At the kinetic energies typically used in an AMS system it is possible to use well-established nuclear physics techniques to detect the individual C ions as they arrive at a suitable particle detector.
The C-14 decays with the beta particle, and you have some detection equipment and you count the C-14s one by one.
and graphitisation lines in 2010 has enabled us to quadruple our throughput and reduce our turnaround time for AMS (now averaging 6 weeks), while maintaining our quality control, improving our background limits and reducing sample size requirements.
This may be a solid-state detector or a device based on the gridded ionisation chamber.
The latter type of detector can measure both the total energy of the incoming ion, and also the rate at which it slows down as it passes through the gas-filled detector.
At the Laboratory, aside from modern and background standards, routine in-house measurements are also made on standards of like composition and age to the sample being dated.
Dr Christine Prior is Team Leader of the Rafter Radiocarbon Laboratory at GNS Science.