Start Radiocarbon dating of metal

Radiocarbon dating of metal

Both the conventional and new carbon dating methods can determine the age of objects as far back as 45,000 to 50,000 years, Rowe said.

The gas slowly and gently oxidizes the surface of the object to produce carbon dioxide for C-14 analysis without damaging the surface, he said.

Scientists have developed a new method to determine the age of ancient mummies, old artwork, and other relics without causing damage to these treasures of global cultural heritage.

Reporting at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), they said it could allow scientific analysis of hundreds of artifacts that until now were off limits because museums and private collectors did not want the objects damaged.

Although it sometimes requires taking minute samples of an object, even that damage may be unacceptable for some artifacts.

The new method does not involve removing a sample of the object.

Carbon-14, or radiocarbon, is a naturally occurring radioactive isotope that forms when cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere strike nitrogen molecules, which then oxidize to become carbon dioxide.

Green plants absorb the carbon dioxide, so the population of carbon-14 molecules is continually replenished until the plant dies.

Then they treat the sample with a strong acid and a strong base and finally burn the sample in a small glass chamber to produce carbon dioxide gas to analyze its C-14 content.