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Burning the samples to convert them into graphite, however, also introduces other elements into the sample like nitrogen 14.When the samples have finally been converted into few milligrams of graphite, they are pressed on to a metal disc.Mass spectrometers detect atoms of specific elements according to their atomic weights.
If the charged particles have the same velocity but different masses, as in the case of the carbon isotopes, the heavier particles are deflected least.From these data, concentration ratio of the isotopes can be known to allow evaluation of the level of fractionation.The greatest advantage that AMS radiocarbon dating has over radiometric methods is small sample size.Accelerator mass spectrometers need only as little as 20 milligrams and as high as 500 milligrams for certain samples whereas conventional methods need at least 10 grams in samples like wood and charcoal and as much as 100 grams in bones and sediments.Accelerator mass spectrometers typically need sample sizes lesser than conventional methods by a factor of 1,000. Hence, because of its ability to analyze samples even in minute amounts, accelerator mass spectrometry is the method of choice for archaeologists with small artifacts and those who cannot destroy very expensive or rare materials.
There are essentially two parts in the process of radiocarbon dating through accelerator mass spectrometry.