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Mass spectrometers detect atoms of specific elements according to their atomic weights.They, however, do not have the sensitivity to distinguish atomic isobars (atoms of different elements that have the same atomic weight, such as in the case of carbon 14 and nitrogen 14—the most common isotope of nitrogen).
The negatively charged carbon atoms, however, move on to the stripper (a gas or a metal foil) where they lose the electrons and emerge as the triple, positively charged carbon atoms.
From these data, concentration ratio of the isotopes can be known to allow evaluation of the level of fractionation.
The greatest advantage that AMS radiocarbon dating has over radiometric methods is small sample size.
Reference materials are also pressed on metal discs.
These metal discs are then mounted on a target wheel so they can be analyzed in sequence.