Radiometric dating methods detect beta particles from the decay of carbon 14 atoms while accelerator mass spectrometers count the number of carbon 14 atoms present in the sample.
Both carbon dating methods have advantages and disadvantages.
At this stage, molecules that may be present are eliminated because they cannot exist in this triple charged state.
These metal discs are then mounted on a target wheel so they can be analyzed in sequence.
Mass spectrometers detect atoms of specific elements according to their atomic weights.
They, however, do not have the sensitivity to distinguish atomic isobars (atoms of different elements that have the same atomic weight, such as in the case of carbon 14 and nitrogen 14—the most common isotope of nitrogen).
Burning the samples to convert them into graphite, however, also introduces other elements into the sample like nitrogen 14.
When the samples have finally been converted into few milligrams of graphite, they are pressed on to a metal disc.