Traditional artifacts age carbon dating dating involves removing and burning small samples of the object. Although it sometimes requires taking minute samples of an object, even that damage may be unacceptable for some artifacts. The new method does not involve removing a sample of the object.
Optically stimulated luminescence can find out how long ago samples were last exposed to the sun. The laser, shown here in green, analyses electrons that accumulate in a crystal over millennia. Radiocarbon is an isotope with two extra neutrons, created by cosmic rays interacting with nitrogen in Earth's atmosphere.
However, pre-1950 samples that are less than 100 years old or older than 60,000 years cannot be accurately dated. The reason for this has to do with the concentration of C-14 in living materials as well as the half-life of the C-14 isotope. Atomic bomb detonations since 1950 have boosted the amount of C-14 in the atmosphere and, as a result of this, a method has been devised to date recent samples.
Credit. Wikimedia Commons Scientists today described development of a new method to determine the age of ancient mummies, old artwork, and other relics without causing damage to these treasures of global cultural heritage. Reporting at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society ACS , they said it could allow scientific analysis of hundreds of artifacts that until now were off limits because museums and private collectors did not want the objects damaged.