The rise of hematite: origin and strategies to reduce the high onset potential for the oxygen evolution reaction
Hematite (α-Fe2O3) has emerged as a promising material for photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting thanks to its abundance, stability in an aqueous environment, favorable optical bandgap and position of the electronic valence band. Nevertheless, its performance as a photoanode is considerably lower than what is theoretically achievable. In particular, the high electrochemical potential usually needed to initiate water oxidation is detrimental to the prospect of using hematite for practical devices. In this review we elucidate the appealing, as well as the challenging, aspects of using hematite for PEC water splitting and focus on the recent efforts towards lowering the onset potential of water oxidation. We examine and rationalize several strategies pursued to achieve this goal involving manipulation of the hematite/electrolyte interface, as well as improving relevant properties of hematite itself.