quote:And, a news piece in Nature on 16 Feb. tells of a recent paper in Physical Review Letters that describes a optical-spectroscopy way to measure carbon 14 at much lower levels than current methods can. This may well allow carbon dating further into the past, though folks will have to be even more vigilant about contamination than they are now. And the instrumentation is potentially far cheaper than accelerator mass spectrometers.
According to the Phys Rev paper, the sensitivity of this technique is one to two orders of magnitude worse than AMS at present. So it is not yet applicable to old samples. But it's a very interesting development. It should be much cheaper than AMS, and may be applicable to biomedical research even at its current level of sensitivity.