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BOC Sciences is dedicated to delivering top-tier products, including carbon-13 labeled peptides, amino acids, nucleic acids, steroids, APIs, impurities, inhibitors, metabolites, carbohydrates, polymers, fatty acids, lipids, and more. Our commitment lies in providing customers with unparalleled quality and stability in our offerings. Additionally, we offer a wide array of custom carbon-13 labeled isotope services and further series of custom stable isotope services to meet our customers diverse needs. Feel free to reach out to us for further inquiries and specialized requests.

What is Carbon 13?

There are three common isotopes of carbon, which are carbon-12 (12C), carbon-13 (13C) and carbon-14 (14C). Carbon-12 is the most common form of carbon isotope and makes up almost 99% of the carbon element on the earth. The second most common carbon isotope is carbon-13, which accounts for about 1% of the carbon in the natural world. Carbon-13 can be used as a carbon isotope labeling tool to study and track the metabolic pathways of compounds, to understand biological interactions, and even to diagnose diseases and study Earth's history. Both carbon-12 and carbon-13 are called stable isotopes of carbon, and their atomic energy can exist stably for a long time without being affected by the half-life. Carbon-14 is radioactive, extremely rare and unstable, and will not decay over time. As a stable isotope of carbon, carbon 13 has the characteristics of non-toxic, non-radioactive, stable performance, high sensitivity, and strong specificity. It revealed advantages as a tracer and has been widely used in research fields such as biomedicine.

Isotopes of carbon, including carbon-12, carbon-13, and carbon-14.Figure 1. Isotopes of carbon, including carbon-12, carbon-13, and carbon-14.

What are Carbon 13 Labeled Compounds?

Carbon-13-labeled compounds refer to non-radioactive-labeled compounds that use stable isotope carbon-13 instead of the original carbon. Carbon-13 labeled compounds retain the same chemical and biological properties as their unlabeled counterparts, which is significant for chemistry and biology research. Carbon-13 can be detected by sensitive mass spectrometry technology to distinguish carbon-13 from natural carbon. Moreover, non-radioactive carbon-13 labeled compounds, including amino acids, peptides, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, lipids, steroids, vitamins, and other drugs, could be used as sensitive tracers to study organic chemical reactions and biochemical reactions more conveniently. Therefore, carbon-13 has a wide range of applications, includes research on pesticide mechanisms, plant physiology, clinical diagnosis, pathology tests, and drug metabolism.

Carbon 13 Production

The production of carbon 13 involves industrial processes to enrich the rare carbon-13 isotope found in nature for commercial purposes, such as chemical synthesis. This process entails separating carbon-13 from the more abundant carbon-12 isotope. Presently, the only economically viable industrial production technique is through cryogenic distillation of methane or carbon monoxide to separate carbon-13. Industrial carbon-13 production requires cryogenic distillation towers exceeding 100 meters in height to separate compounds containing carbon-12 or carbon-13. Currently, the largest reported annual production capacity of commercial carbon-13 production plants worldwide is approximately 400 kilograms of carbon-13.

Applications of Carbon 13 Isotope Tracing

By measuring the carbon isotope ratios of a sample and comparing them to reference values, information about the origin, history or composition of the sample can be inferred. This technique, known as carbon 13 isotope tracing, has many applications in a variety of fields, including environmental science, geochemistry, biology, medicine and forensic science.

Drug Development

In drug development and pharmacology, carbon-13 isotopes are used to study drug metabolism pathways, pharmacokinetics, and side effects. Labeling drugs with carbon-13 atoms allows researchers to track their conversion and metabolism processes in the body. In addition, Carbon-13 isotopic labeling is widely used in metabolic studies to track the pathways of compounds in biology and chemistry. For example, in medical research, drugs labeled with carbon-13 can be employed to trace their metabolism and distribution within the body.

Disease Diagnosis

Carbon-13 isotope traceability allows for disease diagnosis through the use of labeled carbon dioxide. As an example, the Carbon-13 breath test is internationally recognized as the gold standard for the clinical detection of Helicobacter pylori (abbreviated as Hp). The method is highly sensitive, non-radioactive, safe and accurate. H. pylori, a bacterium that causes gastric ulcers and gastritis, can be detected by measuring the ratio of carbon isotopes in exhaled gas. Thus, carbon-13 isotope traceability can be used to diagnose H. pylori infection.

Food Safety Testing

Carbon-13 isotopic traceability verifies food authenticity and origin, like honey, wine, olive oil, and meat. Comparing carbon isotope ratios with reference values reveals geographical origin, botanical source, or production methods. It detects adulteration or fraud by altering carbon isotope ratios, ensuring food quality, safety, and protecting consumer and producer interests.

Environmental Science Research

Carbon-13 isotopic tracing tracks carbon dioxide sources and destinations in the atmosphere and oceans, primary carbon reservoirs. Different sources (e.g., fossil fuels, volcanoes) yield distinct carbon isotope ratios. Measuring carbon dioxide's isotopic ratios estimates each source's contribution to cycling and the greenhouse effect. It also monitors carbon dioxide exchange between the atmosphere and oceans, influenced by temperature, salinity, and circulation. Carbon-13 tracing distinguishes C3 and C4 photosynthesis plants, impacting ecology, evolution, and health.

Geological and Paleontological Studies

Carbon-13 isotopes are widely used in the fields of geology and paleontology to determine the age and sources of fossils, rocks, and fossil fuels. The proportions of carbon-13 can provide important information about biological and Earth history.


1. How many neutrons are in carbon 13?

Carbon-13, an isotope of carbon, contains 7 neutrons.

2. What are carbon 12 carbon 13 and carbon 14?

Carbon-12, carbon-13, and carbon-14 are all isotopes of carbon. Carbon-12 is the most abundant and stable isotope, with 6 protons and 6 neutrons. Carbon-13 is a stable isotope with 6 protons and 7 neutrons. Carbon-14, however, is a radioactive isotope with 6 protons and 8 neutrons, undergoing continuous radioactive decay.

3. How many electrons are in carbon 13?

Carbon-13, an isotope of carbon, has 6 electrons.

4. How many protons does carbon 13 have?

Carbon-13 is an isotope of carbon with 6 protons.

5. Is carbon 13 radioactive?

No, carbon-13 is not radioactive. It is a stable isotope of carbon, meaning it does not undergo radioactive decay.

6. What is the difference between carbon 12 and carbon 13?

The main difference between carbon-12 and carbon-13 lies in their atomic structure, especially in the number of neutrons they contain. Carbon-12 has 6 protons and 6 neutrons, making up the majority of natural carbon (about 98.9%). Carbon-13 is a stable isotope of carbon, but it is less abundant compared to carbon-12. It has 6 protons and 7 neutrons and exists in trace amounts in nature.

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