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AMS works slightly differently; it converts the atoms of the sample into fast-moving ions so that they become charged atoms.By applying magnetic and electrical fields, the mass of these ions is measured and the accelerator is used to remove ions that might contaminate the dating.There are three carbon isotopes that occur as part of the Earth's natural processes; these are carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14.
As a test, the team took samples of acacia wood from two Egyptian Pharaohs and dated them; the results came back to within what was then a reasonable range: 2800BC /- 250 years whereas the earlier independent dates (largely the dendrochronology records) were 2625 /- 75 years (3), (5).Archaeologists had used Relative Dating methods to calculate their reigns.Though their initial calculations were slightly incorrect thanks to the contaminants of extensive nuclear testing of the age, scientists soon discovered the error and developed methods that were more accurate, including a date of calibration to 1950.This new method was based on gas and liquid scintillation counting and these methods are still used today, having been demonstrated as more accurate than Libby's original method (3).
Willard Libby would receive a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1960.
This allows researchers to account for variation by comparing the known records of C levels in the tree record, looking for a tree record that has the same proportion of radiocarbon.