Nano Research

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 56–81 | Cite as

Enabling practical electrocatalyst-assisted photoelectron-chemical water splitting with earth abundant materials

Review Article

Abstract

Sustainable development and continued prosperity of humanity hinge on the availability of renewable energy sources on a terawatts scale. In the long run, solar energy is the only source that can meet this daunting demand. Widespread utilization of solar energy faces challenges as a result of its diffusive (hence low energy density) and intermittent nature. How to effectively harvest, concentrate, store and redistribute solar energy constitutes a fundamental challenge that the scientific community needs to address. Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting is a process that can directly convert solar energy into chemical energy and store it in chemical bonds, by producing hydrogen as a clean fuel source. It has received significant research attention lately. Here we provide a concise review of the key issues encountered in carrying out PEC water splitting. Our focus is on the balance of considerations such as stability, earth abundance, and efficiency. Particular attention is paid to the combination of photoelectrodes with electrocatalysts, especially on the interfaces between different components.

Keywords

photoelectrochemical water splitting efficiency stability interface earth abundance 

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© Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Micro-Nano Materials for Energy Storage and Conversion of Henan Province and Institute of Surface Micro and Nano MaterialsXuchang UniversityHenanChina
  2. 2.Division of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringJoint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, California Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryBoston College, Merkert Chemistry CenterChestnut HillUSA

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