Garman uses a technique known as carbon-dating to date and identify archeological artifacts and historical documents. After earning a Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University in 1949, Harbottle joined Brookhaven National Laboratory as an associate chemist in the same year. He has spent almost his entire career at Brookhaven, advancing to the position of senior chemist in 1968.
He left Brookhaven briefly to become a Guggenheim Fellow at Cambridge University, England, 1957-58, and, in 1959, he taught radioisotope procedures at the American University in Beirut. From 1965-67,
Harbottle was director of the Division of Research and Laboratories, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria.
In 1983, Harbottle was named a co-recipient, with Edward Sayre, of the George Hevesy Medal for outstanding achievement in radioanalytical chemistry.
In 1995, Harbottle won the Seaborg Medal, one of the most prestigious awards given by the American Nuclear Society.
Harbottle retired from the Brookhaven Lab in 1997, but he continues to make significant contributions to his field as a research collaborator at the Laboratory.