Carbon dating illustration
Then, it heated the samples to about 1,750 degrees Fahrenheit to release carbon dioxide, Ms. That gas was captured and placed in a particle accelerator, where the carbon atoms from the sample were sorted and compared. In addition, clearing the sample of potential contaminants can prove difficult.
The results for the canvas fibers were inconclusive. Trotter recycled old canvases for his forgeries, he said, and the fibers could be dated to anytime from the end of the 1600s to the mid-1900s, Ms. And the usefulness of the bomb peak appears to be expiring, too.
But the powerful aboveground nuclear bomb tests of the mid-1900s created even more carbon 14 isotopes out of that atmospheric nitrogen.
The carbon 12 and carbon 13 isotopes are stable, while carbon 14 is unstable.
That increase in carbon 14 was reflected in anything that lived or died after 1963, including wood and fibers that might make up the support or canvas of a modern work of art or the organic matter used to bind pigments in modern paint.
The idea of identifying forgeries by dating the binder used in paint, as Ms.
The samples were taken from a known forgery, a painting of a 19th-century village scene that was claimed to have been created in 1866.
In reality, the work had been painted in the 1980s by Robert Trotter, an artist who was later jailed and fined for selling dozens of such fakes.
Forgers have reused old canvases to create forgeries, neutralizing the effectiveness of testing canvas fibers.