Carbon-14: Direct Detection at Natural Concentrations

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Science  04 Nov 1977:
Vol. 198, Issue 4316, pp. 507-508
DOI: 10.1126/science.198.4316.507


The 14C atoms naturally present in a piece of 19th-century wood have been detected directly by means of a tandem Van de Graaff accelerator used as a high-energy mass spectrometer. The 14C ions were easily resolved from interfering ions with the use of a ΔE-E detector telescope (this telescope consists of a pair of detectors; one of them measures the specific ionization, ΔE, and the sum of the signals from both detectors gives the total energy for each ion, ET). The technique offers a number of practical advantages.