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Radiometric dating methods detect beta particles from the decay of carbon 14 atoms while accelerator mass spectrometers count the number of carbon 14 atoms present in the sample.Both carbon dating methods have advantages and disadvantages.From these data, concentration ratio of the isotopes can be known to allow evaluation of the level of fractionation.The greatest advantage that AMS radiocarbon dating has over radiometric methods is small sample size.Mass spectrometers detect atoms of specific elements according to their atomic weights.They, however, do not have the sensitivity to distinguish atomic isobars (atoms of different elements that have the same atomic weight, such as in the case of carbon 14 and nitrogen 14—the most common isotope of nitrogen).

Lastly, it must be noted that AMS measurements usually achieve higher precision and lower backgrounds than radiometric dating methods.Detectors at different angles of deflection then count the particles.At the end of an AMS run, data gathered is not only the number of carbon 14 atoms in the sample but also the quantity of carbon 12 and carbon 13.An accelerator mass spectrometer, although a powerful tool, is also a costly one.Establishing and maintaining an accelerator mass spectrometer costs millions of dollars.

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