Semiconductor photocatalysts for water oxidation: current status and challenges
Artificial photosynthesis is a highly-promising strategy to convert solar energy into hydrogen energy for the relief of the global energy crisis. Water oxidation is the bottleneck for its kinetic and energetic complexity in the further enhancement of the overall efficiency of the artificial photosystem. Developing efficient and cost-effective photocatalysts for water oxidation is a growing desire, and semiconductor photocatalysts have recently attracted more attention due to their stability and simplicity. This article reviews the recent advancement of semiconductor photocatalysts with a focus on the relationship between material optimization and water oxidation efficiency. A brief introduction to artificial photosynthesis and water oxidation is given first, followed by an explanation of the basic rules and mechanisms of semiconductor particulate photocatalysts for water oxidation as theoretical references for discussions of componential, surface structure, and crystal structure modification. O2-evolving photocatalysts in Z-scheme systems are also introduced to demonstrate practical applications of water oxidation photocatalysts in artificial photosystems. The final part proposes some challenges based on the dynamics and energetics of photoholes which are fundamental to the enhancement of water oxidation efficiency, as well as on the simulation of natural water oxidation that will be a trend in future research.