There is long history of using 14C analysis for dating samples at the University of Bern. At the end of the 1950s, the climate and environmental physicist Hans Oeschger set up one of the first 14C laboratories in the world, and the proportional counter that he developed broke new ground.
The LARA laboratory has placed the University of Bern back at the forefront of 14C analysis technology. The new MICADAS (MIni CArbon DAting System) device can deal with much smaller samples of material than the Oeschger counter, and is so much simpler to operate that about ten times more measurements can be made in the same amount of time.
The MICADAS was developed by the ETH Zürich. This AMS system separates 14C from the stable carbon isotopes 12C and 13C, whose presence may exceed that of 14C by up to 15 orders of magnitude. Ionic fragments of molecules of the same mass as 14C (such as 12CH2 and 13CH) are destroyed by collision with a gas stripper, after the charged particles have been accelerated by a voltage of 200 kV.