Benefits of using radiocarbon dating
Any organic material that is available in sufficient quantity can be prepared for radiocarbon dating.Modern AMS (accelerator mass spectroscopy) methods require tiny amounts, about 50 mg.Many laboratories now use liquid scintillation counters with the samples being converted to benzene.All of these counter types measure the C-14 content by monitering the rate of decay per unit time.Pre-treatment seeks to remove from the sample any contaminating carbon that could yield an inaccurate date.
However, to avoid confusion all radiocarbon laboratories continue to use the half-life calculated by Libby, sometimes rounding it to 5570 years.
Most samples require chemical pre-treatment to ensure their purity or to recover particular components of the material.
The objective of pre-treatment is to ensure that the carbon being analyzed is native to the sample submitted for dating.
The ensuing atomic interactions create a steady supply of c14 that rapidly diffuses throughout the atmosphere.
Plants take up c14 along with other carbon isotopes during photosynthesis in the proportions that occur in the atmosphere; animals acquire c14 by eating the plants (or other animals).