Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2021, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (9): 2004052.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB202004052

Special Issue: Fuel Cells

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Application of Raman Spectroscopy in Fuel Cell

Yue-Jiao Zhang, Yue-Zhou Zhu, Jian-Feng Li()   

  • Received:2020-04-17 Accepted:2020-05-31 Published:2020-06-04
  • Contact: Jian-Feng Li
  • About author:Jian-Feng Li, Email:; Tel.: +86-592-2186192
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21925404);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21775127);the Science and Technology Planning Project of Fujian Province, China(2019Y4001)


Recently, the problems of environmental pollution and energy shortages arise along with the rapid development of the economy, and gradually becoming significant challenges faced by society. To realize truly sustainable development, novel environment-friendly clean energy technologies need to be developed. The fuel cell is a chemical device that can directly convert the chemical energy of a fuel and an oxidant into electrical energy via an electrochemical reaction. The electrochemical reaction is usually clean and complete, and rarely produces harmful substances. Therefore, fuel cells are considered to be one of the most promising clean energy technologies. Fuel cells can be classified based on their electrolytes: alkaline fuel cells (AFC), phosphoric acid fuel cells (PAFC), molten carbonate fuel cells (MCFC), solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), and proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC). Although there have been many studies regarding the materials and reactions of fuel cells, direct spectroscopic evidence to understand the reaction mechanisms in the electrodes is lacking. Raman spectroscopy, as a non-destructive molecular spectroscopy technique with ultra-high sensitivity, is suitable for studying fuel cell materials. Over the past decade, the development of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) and shell-isolated nanoparticle-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SHINERS) has overcome the material and morphology limitations of traditional Raman spectroscopy. The extraordinary progress in SHINERS has enabled researchers to acquire high-quality Raman spectra for many types of materials instead of only on the surface of noble metals such as Au, Ag, and Cu. This strategy can also be applied to trace intermediate reactants on electrodes to fully understand the reaction mechanism of the fuel cell. Although many kinds of characterization methods including X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Auger electron spectroscopy (AES), low-energy electron diffraction (LEED), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), and X-ray diffraction (XRD) also exhibit excellent sensitivity for studying electrode reactions, they require material pretreatments and long-duration experiments. Compared with the abovementioned methods, SERS and SHINERS show better performance for in situ experiments, which will aid in the rational design of catalysts and electrode materials with higher efficiency. This article provides an overview of the basic concepts of fuel cells, as well as SERS and SHINERS. In addition, the application of Raman spectroscopy, SERS, and SHINERS in fuel cell development is discussed along with future prospects.

Key words: Fuel cell, Raman spectroscopy, Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy, Shell-isolated nanoparticle enhanced Raman spectroscopy