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Preparation of carbon samples for 14C dating by the AMS technique

Final Report Summary - AMS-14C (Preparation of carbon samples for 14C dating by the AMS technique)

The main objective of the project AMS-14C was to implement the new technique of 14C dating of very small samples in the Radiocarbon Laboratory of the Rudjer Boškovic Institute (RBI) in Zagreb, Croatia, with the aim of reinforcing research potential of the laboratory. Very small samples of the size of mg can be dated by the accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) technique. For this purpose, all samples have to be converted to carbon (graphite) targets and then the measurement is performed at the accelerator.

Implementation of the graphite preparation technique at the RBI laboratory included the rig (preparation vacuum line) construction, testing and validation of the accepted method and finally, intercomparison of the 14C age of unknown samples prepared both on the new rig in the laboratory in Zagreb and in the established AMS laboratory. By construction and validation of a rig for preparation of graphite targets from various samples for radiocarbon (14C) dating by AMS, the RBI radiocarbon laboratory has joined the ever increasing number of so-called 'feeder AMS-14C laboratories', i.e. laboratories that prepare graphite targets to be measured on a remote accelerator.

Specific objectives and planned activities were accomplished and realised. Specific objectives (as stated in the description of work), and in short, work performed to achieve each of the specific objectives are presented below:
- specialised training (two person-months) of young researchers was performed at the UGLA / SUERC AMS facility in Glasgow - training of young scientists Andreja Sironic and Jadranka Barešic for three weeks at SUERC and one week at the Queens University, Belfast (May 2007);
- scientific visit of senior researcher from the RBI radiocarbon laboratory to UGLA / SUERC to learn about the preparation method, about AMS measurement, data evaluation, and quality control - one visit of two weeks accomplished - Ines Krajcar Bronic visited SUERC (March 2007);
- hosting the UGLA / SUERC experts in AMS 14C dating in the RBI laboratory (two weeks) - accomplished in cooperation with the IAEA project - Graham Muir and Philip Naysmith visited RBI for one week in September 2007;
- establishment of close cooperation between the RBI laboratory and the UGLA / SUERC accelerator unit;
- purchasing equipment and consumables needed for graphite preparation, including purchase of NIST standard samples, PC, sensors and interfaces, chemicals, quartz tubes, various spare parts for AMS-graphite vacuum line, etc.
- upgrading of the existing preparation lines and measurement techniques - accomplished;
- hiring a young person for a limited period of time with the specific task of preparing software (after his training for three weeks) for online control of the new preparation line, as well as upgrading of the existing electronic system and utility software, and development of an integrated database;
- hiring of a software specialist for 10 months and his training of 1 week (November 2007) accomplished. Upgrade of electronic system and utility softer implementation accomplished, database Zagrada developed;
- dissemination - spread of information to wider scientific community and public. During the whole duration of the project the following was accomplished: web page of the project, three TV clips on national television, several articles in newspapers and information on various web pages, two papers in international CC journals, one paper and several abstracts in conference proceedings, five oral and three poster presentations and national and international conferences (Romania, Italy, Switzerlad, Germany, Argentina, Croatia), six popular and / public lectures (at the summer school of young physicists, in the City Musem in Sisak, etc.), several laboratory presentations to various groups of students and collaborators, participation in the event 'Open doors of the institute', workshop organised and proceedings issued.

The project was structured into six work packages (WPs), namely:
- WP1: Project administrative and technical management
- WP2: Training and expert exchange
- WP3: Rig construction, testing and validation
- WP4: Intercomparison
- WP5: Software and database development
- WP6: Dissemination and exploitation.

Both the general and specific objectives of the project were fully met: the line for routine graphite preparation for AMS - 14C dating is fully operational, preparation lines for LSC - 14C dating are modernised, the staff has been trained, a cooperation with the University of Glasgow has been established, a software specialist was hired, the new modern relational database was developed, and specially the final workshop was very successful. Dissemination activities resulted in two papers in international CC journals, one paper and several abstracts in conference proceedings, five oral and three poster presentations and national and international conferences, six popular and / public lectures, three TV clips on national TV, several articles in newspapers, several information on various webpages, the workshop proceedings, and several laboratory presentations with demonstration to various groups of visitors. These achievements result in improved competitiveness of the RBI laboratory for future international projects, better visibility of our group and institute in the region, better opportunities for integration into the European Research Area (ERA), and creation of improved market opportunities for the research centre in WBC.