Uses of mass spectrometry in radioactive dating

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This can be done by chemical means, but for precise determinations, mass spectrometry can be used.

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  • Accelerator Mass Spectrometry.
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From the radioactive decay equations, an expression for elapsed time can be developed. Using the common nuclear practice of calling the isotopes "parent" and "daughter", we use P and D to indicate the associated numbers of atoms. The requirement of keeping the same number of nuclei gives. Now suppose that there was an original amount of the daughter element present at the formation time of the sample being studied.

Simple explanation of the Mass Spectrometer.

This adds an additional unknown in the process, and requires an additional piece of data to permit a solution for elapsed time. The requirement on the populations is now. Fortunately for radioactive dating processes, additional information is available in the form of other isotopes of the elements involved in the radioactive process.

Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating is an advanced technique used to Radiometric dating methods detect beta particles from the decay of carbon Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) has been adopted as a AMS counts atoms of a rare isotope of interest independent of decay events, and .. are treated as non-radioactive and may be processed in any laboratory.

If there is another isotope of the daugther element D' which is presumed to be constant throughout the process, then the population requirement can be expressed in terms of the ratios. We can be reasonably confident that the isotope D' is contant if it is not radioactive not part of one of the natural radioactive series. Using the radioactive decay equation as above, this becomes.

The urinary metabolite profile of the dietary carcinogen 2-aminomethylphenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine is predictive of colon DNA adducts after a low-dose exposure in humans. The kinetic energy that had accumulated up to now is distributed among the separate atoms, none of which has the same energy as a single 14 C ion. Open in a separate window. Focus Once the filament is heated up, and the sample is ionizing, ions will be emitted from the filament. Importantly, because of the extreme sensitivity, PK studies utilizing AMS for detection have the ability to measure long-term kinetics and metabolism using low doses for several months after isotope administration.

Such a line is called an isochron since all the different minerals are presumed to have crystallized together and therefore have the same age since solidification. The age can then be calculated from that slope as follows:. For geologic dating, the age calculation must take into account the presence of the radioactive species at the beginning of the time interval.

If there is a non-radiogenic isotope of the daughter element present in the mineral, it can be used as a reference and the ratios of the parent and daughter elements plotted as ratios with that reference isotope. It is thus easy to distinguish the 14 C from the more intense "background" caused by the dissociated molecules on the basis of their kinetic energy.

Accelerating the ions to high energy has one more advantage. At the kinetic energies typically used in an AMS system it is possible to use well-established nuclear physics techniques to detect the individual 14 C ions as they arrive at a suitable particle detector. This may be a solid-state detector or a device based on the gridded ionisation chamber. The latter type of detector can measure both the total energy of the incoming ion, and also the rate at which it slows down as it passes through the gas-filled detector.

These two pieces of information are sufficient to completely identify the ion as 14 C.

The Use of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry in Human Health and Molecular Toxicology

The main advantage is the much smaller sample size that is needed to make a measurement. Radiometric counting can only detect 14 C atoms at the rate at which they decay. This requires sufficient atoms to be present to provide a large enough decay rate, as described above. AMS, on the other hand, does not rely on radioactive decay to detect the 14 C. The AMS technique literally extracts and counts the 14 C atoms in the sample, and at the same time determines the amount of the stable isotopes 13 C and 12 C.

Radioactive Dating

As a consequence, a measurement that may take several days and require grams of sample using decay counting may take only 30 minutes and consume a milligram using AMS. A small sample size may or may not be a decisive advantage in a particular case, depending on the task and the nature of the sample material.

The real advantages of AMS lie in the possibilities it offers for doing completely new kinds of measurements and using new kinds of sample materials. A novel application of AMS is the measurement of 14 C tracer used at near-natural levels in biomedical and pharmaceutical research. While 14 C has long been used as a tracer for chemical processes and pathways, the amount of tracer required using decay counting can be hazardous to the researchers, pose contamination problems or, in some cases, itself influence the process being studied.