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.
In all tandem accelerators, atoms are stripped at the high-voltage terminal using either a thin Carbon foil or Argon gas.
Magnetic lenses focus the high energy particles leaving the accelerator into a magnetic dipole, (the high energy analyzing magnet).
Carbon dating has been used since the 1940s to determine the ages of archaeological finds.
The negative ions that enter the accelerator are attracted to the high-voltage terminal, which is what accellerates the CAMS LLNL employs a tandem Van de Graaff accelerator, in which a second acceleration of millions of volts is applied.
Stable isotopes can be collected at off-axis beam stops where secondary focusing lenses and additional analyzing equipment remove unwanted ions and molecular fragments to eliminate background.
AMS requires a particle accelerator, originally used in nuclear physics research, which limits its widespread use due to high costs and technical complexity.
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The traditional accelerator was first developed in the early 1930s for nuclear physics research.
In 1939, UC Berkeley scientists Luis Alvarez and Robert Cornog were the first to use AMS in the detection of Now, over 70 years later, cyclotrons have been replaced by an accelerator type with greater energy stability: the tandem electrostatic accelerator.
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