J.IIC-CG VOLUME 3 (1978)

A New Method of Radiocarbon Dating: Atom-Counting

E.B. Banning, L.A. Pavlish

In the conventional 14C method, age is determined on the basis of accurate measurement of beta-ray decay rate. In the new method, the individual 14C atoms are counted in a sample by using an ultrasensitive mass spectrometer. There are many advantages to this approach. The problem of cosmic ray background does not arise. Higher counting rates will make faster determinations possible on samples one thousand times smaller, and may result in greater accuracy. The new method will permit a great expansion in the kinds of materials which can be dated because only milligram samples will be required. Valuable art objects will therefore be datable without significant alteration. Research on the design of a dedicated 14C atom-counting machine is in progress.

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