By knowing how much carbon 14 is left in a sample, the age of the organism when it died can be known.
It must be noted though that radiocarbon dating results indicate when the organism was alive but not when a material from that organism was used.
Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) is a modern radiocarbon dating method that is considered to be the more efficient way to measure radiocarbon content of a sample.
In this method, the carbon 14 content is directly measured relative to the carbon 12 and carbon 13 present. Some inorganic matter, like a shell’s aragonite component, can also be dated as long as the mineral’s formation involved assimilation of carbon 14 in equilibrium with the atmosphere.
Over the years, other secondary radiocarbon standards have been made.
Radiocarbon activity of materials in the background is also determined to remove its contribution from results obtained during a sample analysis.Radiocarbon Dating Groundwater The application of radiocarbon dating to groundwater analysis can offer a technique to predict the over-pumping of the aquifer before it becomes contaminated or overexploited.Tracer-Free AMS Dating Lab Beta Analytic does not accept pharmaceutical samples with "tracer Carbon-14" or any other material containing artificial Carbon-14 to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination.Standard errors are also reported in a radiocarbon dating result, hence the “±” values.These values have been derived through statistical means.Background radiocarbon activity is measured, and the values obtained are deducted from the sample’s radiocarbon dating results.Background samples analyzed are usually geological in origin of infinite age such as coal, lignite, and limestone.There are three principal techniques used to measure carbon 14 content of any given sample— gas proportional counting, liquid scintillation counting, and accelerator mass spectrometry.Gas proportional counting is a conventional radiometric dating technique that counts the beta particles emitted by a given sample. In this method, the carbon sample is first converted to carbon dioxide gas before measurement in gas proportional counters takes place.American Chemical Society National Historic Chemical Landmarks.Discovery of Radiocarbon Dating (accessed October 31, 2017). Sheridan Bowman, Radiocarbon Dating: Interpreting the Past (1990), University of California Press Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Radiocarbon Dating Calibration of Carbon 14 Dating Results Radiocarbon Dating and Bomb Carbon About AMS Dating Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) dating involves accelerating ions to extraordinarily high kinetic energies followed by mass analysis.