AMS radiocarbon dating of paper

Paper, being an organic material, is well-suited for AMS radiocarbon dating. This applies to a wide range of items like ancient books, manuscripts, maps, and other paper-based objects. For an AMS C14 analysis of paper, approximately 1 square centimeter of the material is typically required, preferably as a whole piece. If that's not possible, equivalent amounts can be obtained from several smaller sections.

Before the actual AMS radiocarbon analysis, all paper samples undergo a meticulous selection and pre-treatment process, carefully considering factors like the type of paper, the quantity available, and its overall condition. Subsequently, the samples are subjected to graphitization. This pre-treatment step is a critical element in the carbon dating process, necessitating a high level of expertise to ensure reliable and accurate results. At the VILNIUS RADIOCARBON laboratory, paper samples are pre-treated using premium-quality chemicals and consumables readily available in the market. The laboratory strictly adheres to both internal and internationally recognized methodologies as outlined in the protocol to maintain the highest standards in the analysis of paper samples.


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Pretreatment protocol for paper samples

Preferred sample size: >40 mg

Minimum sample size: 20 mg

Paper samples firstly undergoes solvent extraction to remove carbon contamination associated with production or handling. The contaminants are extracted in a sequence of hot solvents: hexane, acetone, ethanol, followed by a distilled water wash if a contaminant is suspected but its identity unknown. Where the exact contaminant is known, the choice of solvent is tailored to the specific contaminant (e.g., chloroform for latex and certain waxes; water, acetone, and methanol for PVA and Resistol; methanol for shellac). After that samples are treated using the standard acid-base-acid (ABA) method, which involves a sequence of 1M HCl (70°C), 0.1-0.2M NaOH (70°C), and 1M HCl (70°C). Samples are dried in pH=3 solution.

Before sending the sample, we recommend to check here, how your sample’s result in the dating certificate will look.

If you need consultation regarding correct sampling – do not hesitate to call or write a message with the sample photos

Saulėtekio av. 3, LT-10257
Vilnius, Lithuania

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