Radiocarbon dating is a method that provides objective age estimates for carbon-based materials that originated from living organisms. An age could be estimated by measuring the amount of carbon-14 present in the sample and comparing this against an internationally used reference standard.
How does radiocarbon dating work What materials does it work best on?
Radiocarbon dating works by comparing the three different isotopes of carbon. Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons. This means that although they are very similar chemically, they have different masses.
Why do we use carbon-14 to date materials?
Because carbon-14 decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon. The carbon-14 method was developed by the American physicist Willard F. Libby about 1946.