Radiocarbon dating laboratory

The radiocarbon dating method relies on two mainstays. On the one hand, radioactive disintegration happens at a continuous speed, meaning that for a specific amount of radioactive carbon (carbon 14), half will disappear after 5730 years. Therefore, the other half still remains after 5730 years. After 11460 years, only a quarter remains, and so forth. On the other hand, the atmosphere fixes carbon during photosynthesis, similar to the carbon cycle.

In other words, the radiocarbon dating method measures how much of radiocarbon is still present. The amount is then compared to the initial quantity of carbon 14, and, thanks to the half-life, the age of the object is calculated.

Since 2013 KIK-IRPA uses an AMS machine of the newest generation, the so-called MICADAS (Mini carbon dating system). This particle accelerator coupled to a mass spectrometer facilitates measuring very small samples with great accuracy in only a couple of hours time. The whole procedure, from sample preparation to measuring, is henceforth carried out at KIK-IRPA. The 14C laboratory of KIK-IRPA carries out datings for archeology, art history and geology, both for Belgian researchers and for abroad.


Information brochure (pdf)


See the main projects of the Radiocarbon dating laboratory



Sample input and database



C14 Registration and database




Click here to consult the database containing the results of radiocarbon datings carried out bij the KIK-IRPA or to input samples for dating. Please note that to apply for a dating you also have to send us an official order form.




Contact person: Mathieu Boudin -