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Accelerator Mass Spectrometry AMS is a technique for measuring the concentrations of rare isotopes that cannot be detected with conventional mass spectrometers. The original, and best known, application of AMS is radiocarbon dating, where you are trying to detect the rare isotope 14 C in the presence of the much more abundant isotopes 12 C and 13 C. The natural abundance of 14 C is about one 14 C atom per trillion 10 12 atoms of 12 C. A nuclear particle accelerator consists essentially of two linear accelerators joined end-to-end, with the join section called the terminal charged to a very high positive potential 3 million volts or higher. Injecting negatively charged carbon ions from the material being analysed into a nuclear particle accelerator based on the electrostatic tandem accelerator principle. The negative ions are accelerated towards the positive potential. At the terminal they pass through either a very thin carbon film or a tube filled with gas at low pressure the stripper , depending on the particular accelerator. Collisions with carbon or gas atoms in the stripper remove several electrons from the carbon ions, changing their polarity from negative to positive. The positive ions are then accelerated through the second stage of the accelerator, reaching kinetic energies of the order of 10 to 30 million electron volts.
A J T Jull 1,2,3. Create citation alert. Buy this article in print. Journal RSS feed. Sign up for new issue notifications. There are many applications of 14 C dating and other measurements using accelerator mass spectrometry AMS. In particular, applications to dating of archaeological samples and interesting artifacts are discussed.
Accelerator mass spectrometry AMS is a form of mass spectrometry that accelerates ions to extraordinarily high kinetic energies before mass analysis. The special strength of AMS among the mass spectrometric methods is its power to separate a rare isotope from an abundant neighboring mass "abundance sensitivity", e. This makes possible the detection of naturally occurring, long-lived radio-isotopes such as 10 Be, 36 Cl, 26 Al and 14 C. AMS can outperform the competing technique of decay counting for all isotopes where the half-life is long enough. Generally, negative ions are created atoms are ionized in an ion source.
There are two techniques in measuring radiocarbon in samples—through radiometric dating and by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry AMS. The two techniques are used primarily in determining carbon 14 content of archaeological artifacts and geological samples. These two radiocarbon dating methods use modern standards such as oxalic acid and other reference materials.