Atomic mass spectrometry dating

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AMS will provide a vital and cost-effective role in determining the economics of the geology and mineralogy in Africa, especially considering the sheer scale and variety of the mineral wealth of the continent.

Expected Outcomes by applying AMS with particular relevance to Southern Africa. Research in global and regional climate change based on long lived cosmogenic isotopes in the atmosphere such as Cl.

This simple, yet effective, technique will enable large-scale, rapid and sensitive analysis of samples across and involving a wide range of disciplines.

It is anticipated that all South African universities will participate in this state-of-the-art facility, which will be the only one of its kind on the African continent. Significant contributions will be made to areas such as Biomedicine, Diagnostics, Agriculture and Minerals, Materials and Chemicals.

More traditional uses of carbon dating also benefit from an AMS, because it provides more precise measurements of carbon-14 than other methods, and it can do so with incredibly tiny samples -- as small as 1 milligram.

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

This causes the sample to eject atoms, which are then filtered by magnetic and electric fields and sent into a detector that counts them.

The ratio of unstable carbon-14 to stable carbon-12 atoms reveals the age of the sample—be it an ancient manuscript or a Neanderthal skull.

CAMS is one of several dozen labs worldwide that conduct accelerator mass spectrometry, or AMS.

“Just the fact that AMS requires only a tiny sample has opened up whole new fields,” says John Southon, co-founder of the AMS facility at the University of California, Irvine.

ACCELERATOR MASS SPECTROMETRY AMS counts atoms instead of counting decays.

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.

Step into the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on any given day, and you may see researchers tracking the dynamics of the Earth’s carbon cycle, searching for signatures of nuclear fuel reprocessing or determining the age of remains from the Chicago Police Department’s cold case files.

Proof-of-principle of a new mass spectrometric technique for radiocarbon measurement is demonstrated.

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