Uses of mass spectrometry in radioactive dating

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The properties that render low pressures desirable include a reduction in the scattering of the beam in the analyzer, which causes interfering background effects and a reduction in the production of spurious beams out of the residual gases, particularly from the organic compounds that are present.During the 1960s diffusion pumps began to be replaced by ion-getter pumps, with turbomolecular pumps becoming common in the 1980s.The operation of a mass spectrometer depends on elaborate electronic equipment: ion sources require extremely stable power supplies, magnets need instruments for measuring the magnetic field and controlling the current supply for the coils, detectors use a variety of power supplies and amplifiers, and general operation requires electronic auxiliary equipment.This includes analysis of body fluids and hair samples to test for the presence of drugs or poisons, testing of sports figures for doping, the examination of compounds left behind after suspicious fires, investigations of bomb fragments, and the detection of organic compounds through pyrolysis.Sometimes, however, the mass spectrometer plays a role far beyond these fairly standard uses.

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