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Dr Peter Kappen

Dr Peter Kappen

Group Manager - Spectroscopy

Dr Peter Kappen manages the Spectroscopy Group at the Australian Synchrotron. This group currently comprises the Tera-Hertz, Soft X-ray, and X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy beamlines.

He became curious about synchrotron science during his undergraduate degree and completed a PhD in physics with the Hamburg Synchrotron at DESY in Germany. Before joining the Australian Synchrotron, he worked at La Trobe University, developing a local community of synchrotron researchers and collaborating with industry and government on synchrotron projects to add value to business.

Peter’s expertise lies in multi-disciplinary science with a focus on applying X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) to answer questions like “What is the chemical form of that element?” He has assisted and collaborated with numerous research groups using the XAS beamline to further their research. Examples include assessing risks to terrestrial plants arising from exposure to silver nanoparticles, improving efficiency and effectiveness of catalysts and related energy materials, and analysing hexavalent chromium in soil and land produced by bushfires.

Aside from synchrotron work, Peter is interested in innovation and its connections to science policy, furthered by a secondment to the Office of Innovation and Science Australia in 2016. Peter is also Co-Editor of the magazine Australian Physics, published by the Australian Institute of Physics, and he is an adjudicator for the Australasian Reporting Awards.


Multi-disciplinary science services and community development (synchrotron), X-ray absorption spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence detectors.

Qualifications & Achievements

  • PhD in Physics, University of Hamburg (2002)
  • BSc Hon (German ‘Diplom’) in Physics, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany
  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award, La Trobe University (2003)

Committees, Affiliations & memberships

  • Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Chemistry and Physics, La Trobe University
  • Co-Editor, Australian Physics magazine, Australian Institute of Physics
  • Member, German Physical Society
  • Member, Local organising committee, XAFS 2021, 18th International Conference on X-ray Absorption Fine Structure
  • Adjudicator, Australasian Reporting Awards