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However, limiting ages or "backgrounds" are also determined by process blanks which correspond to the method used to extract the carbon from the sample.

» NOSAMS General Statement of C from contamination introduced during chemical preparation, collection or handling.

Fraction Modern is a measurement of the deviation of the C is also affected by natural isotopic fractionation.

In AMS, the filiamentous carbon or "graphite" derived from a sample is compressed into a small cavity in an aluminum "target" which acts as a cathode in the ion source.

The surface of the graphite is sputtered with heated, ionized cesium and the ions produced are extracted and accelerated in the AMS system.

Organic materials, which require the most processing, are limited to younger ages by their corresponding process blank.

Although one can simply measure older samples for longer times, there are practical limits to the minimum sample activity that can be measured.

At the present time, for a 1 milligram sample of graphite, this limiting age is about ten half-lives, or 60,000 years, if set only by the sample size.

Thus, ages are limited by the age of the process blanks (more on that below) and by the statistical uncertainty of the C measurement.

For large samples, the blank corrected fraction modern (\(Fm_c\)) is computed from the expression: $$Fm_c = Fm - Fm_b \frac{Fm_s - Fm}{Fm_s}$$ Where \(Fm_b\), \(Fm\) and \(Fm_s\) represent the C ratios of the blank, the sample and the modern reference, respectively.

After acceleration and removal of electrons, the emerging positive ions are magnetically separated by mass and the C counts per second are collected.

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