Techniques for making precise and accurate radiocarbon accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measurements on samples containing less than a few hundred micrograms of carbon are being developed at the NOSAMS facility. A detailed examination of all aspects of the sample preparation and data analysis process shows encouraging results. Small quantities of CO2 are reduced to graphite over cobalt catalyst at an optimal temperature of 605 degrees C. Measured C-14/C-12 ratios of the resulting targets are affected by machine-induced isotopic fractionation, which appears directly related to the decrease in ion current generated by the smaller sample sizes. It is possible to compensate effectively for this fractionation by measuring samples relative to small standards of identical size. Examination of the various potential sources of background C-14 contamination indicates that the sample combustion process is the largest contributor, adding ca. 1 mu g of carbon with a less-than-modern C-14 concentration.
Part 1 Sp. Iss. SI113KTTimes Cited:63Cited References Count:12