Radioisotopes as tracers in carbon dating
Atoms of carbon-14 undergo a random rearrangement in a process called radioactive decay. The time taken for a given amount of carbon-14 to decay so that only half of it remains is called the half-life. Scientists can use this to calculate the age of very old items of archaeological interest, provided they have a plant or animal origin.
Rearrangements can occur, leading to the emission of radiation.
Of the 3,000 nuclides (distinct kind of atom) known, only about 300 are stable.
Only a very small amount of americium is used – about 0.2 mg.
It has a half-life of 432 years and is an alpha particle emitter.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony has been held to formally open the Argonne TRACER Center (Trace Radioisotope Analysis Center) at the U. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.