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.
There are two accelerator systems commonly used for radiocarbon dating through accelerator mass spectrometry.
One is the cyclotron, and the other is a tandem electrostatic accelerator.
After pretreatment, samples for radiocarbon dating are prepared for use in an accelerator mass spectrometer by converting them into a solid graphite form.
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.
Although both radiocarbon dating methods produce high-quality results, they are fundamentally different in principle.
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.