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Science · Advanced Physics
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In a carbon-dating experiment, a particular type of mass spectrometer is used to separate 14C from 12C. Carbon ions from a sample are first accelerated through a potential difference AVi between the charged accelerating plates (assume their initial kinetic energy is negligible). Then the ions enter a region of uniform downward magnetic field B. The ions pass between deflection plates spaced a distance d apart. By adjusting the potential difference AV between these plates, only one of the two isotopes 14 C or 12 is allowed to pass through to the next stage of the mass spectrometer. The distance from the entrance to the ion detector is D. By suitably adjusting AVi and AV the detector counts only one type of ion, so the relative abundances can be determined. Detector W E Ions Deflecting plates (spacing d) Accelerating plates

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