Operando plasmon-enhanced Raman spectroscopy in silicon anodes for Li-ion battery
Silicon, an attractive candidate for high-energy lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), displays an alloying mechanism with lithium and presents several unique characteristics which make it an interesting scientific topic and also a technological challenge. In situ local probe measurements have been recently developed to understand the lithiation process and propose an effective remedy to the failure mechanisms. One of the most specific techniques, which is able to follow the phase changes in poorly crystallized electrode materials, makes use of Raman spectroscopy within the battery, i.e., in operando mode. Such an approach has been successful but is still limited by the rather signal-to-noise ratio of the spectroscopy. Herein, the operando Raman signal from the silicon anodes is enhanced by plasmonic nanoparticles following the known surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). Coinage metals (Ag and Au) display a surface plasmon resonance in the visible and allow the SERS effect to take place. We have found that the as-prepared materials reach high specific capacities over 1000 mAh/g with stability over more than 1000 cycles at 1C rate and can be suitable to perform as anodes in LIB. Moreover, the incorporation of coinage metals enables SERS to take place specifically on the surface of silicon. Consequently, by using a specially designed Raman cell, it is possible to follow the processes in a silicon-coinage metal-based battery trough operando SERS measurements.