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Issue 20, 2008
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Metal oxide photoanodes for solar hydrogen production

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The development of sustainable hydrogen production is a key target in the further facilitation of a hydrogen economy. Solar hydrogen generation through the photolytic splitting of water sensitised by semiconductor materials is attractive as it is both renewable and does not lead to problematic by-products, unlike current hydrogen sources such as natural gas. Consequently, the development of these semiconductor materials has undergone considerable research since their discovery over 30 years ago and it would seem prescient to review the more practical results of this research. Among the critical factors influencing the choice of semiconductor material for photoelectrolysis of water are the band-gap energies, flat band potentials and stability towards photocorrosion; the latter of these points directs us to focus on metal oxides. Careful design of thin films of photocatalyst material can eliminate potential routes of losses in performance, i.e., recombination at grain boundaries. Methods to overcome these problems are discussed such as coupling a photoanode for photolysis of water to a photovoltaic cell in a “tandem cell” device.

Graphical abstract: Metal oxide photoanodes for solar hydrogen production

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Article information

03 Dec 2007
01 Feb 2008
First published
14 Mar 2008

J. Mater. Chem., 2008,18, 2298-2303
Article type

Metal oxide photoanodes for solar hydrogen production

B. D. Alexander, P. J. Kulesza, I. Rutkowska, R. Solarska and J. Augustynski, J. Mater. Chem., 2008, 18, 2298
DOI: 10.1039/B718644D

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