“In principle, we can use our apparatus to detect many other molecules such as methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases or chemicals of interest for national security or forensics.” How it works The SCAR device detects radiocarbon levels by measuring how laser light interacts with the carbon dioxide that is produced when a given sample is burned.
It is an absolute dating method which has also enabled the verification of the stratigraphic dating method, a method based on the identification of homogeneous layers of ground in order to obtain information on the nature and the date of the archaeological site.
The radiocarbon technique instead, enables absolute dating of any material of organic origin, and also materials that are inorganic which have however been generated by living organisms.
“Accelerator mass spectroscopy can be used to carbon date bones, wood, fabrics or anything of biological origin, pinpointing its age of up to 50,000 years ago,” said Iacopo Galli, a member of the research team.
“Using our new technique, we can do something similar but with a lower cost and with a faster delivery time for the results.” The researchers report that their SCAR instrument can detect radiocarbon dioxide concentration with a precision of 0.4 percent, which approaches the 0.2 percent precision of the best accelerator mass spectrometers.
The body, that was incredibly preserved, dates back to approximately 5300 years ago.
C dating method was developed between 19 by the chemist, Willard Libby of the University of Chicago, for which he received the Nobel prize in 1960.
One of their next steps is to conduct SCAR analyses of samples that are significant to various fields, such as archaeological artifacts and biofuels, and directly compare these measurements with accelerator mass spectrometry results from the same samples.
Radiocarbon dating In 1991, near the border between Austria and Italy, the body of the Similaun man, also known as Oetzi, was discovered.
The new technique can deliver results in just two hours, with each test costing about half what it would if conducted using an accelerator mass spectrometer.
The researchers estimate the SCAR instrument is about 100 times smaller and 10 times cheaper than the instrumentation required for accelerator mass spectrometry.
Even if the absorption is small for a single pass, thousands of passes provide enough absorption to detect even trace amounts of radiocarbon.