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Issue 15, 2015
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Noble metal-free hydrogen evolution catalysts for water splitting

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Abstract

Sustainable hydrogen production is an essential prerequisite of a future hydrogen economy. Water electrolysis driven by renewable resource-derived electricity and direct solar-to-hydrogen conversion based on photochemical and photoelectrochemical water splitting are promising pathways for sustainable hydrogen production. All these techniques require, among many things, highly active noble metal-free hydrogen evolution catalysts to make the water splitting process more energy-efficient and economical. In this review, we highlight the recent research efforts toward the synthesis of noble metal-free electrocatalysts, especially at the nanoscale, and their catalytic properties for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). We review several important kinds of heterogeneous non-precious metal electrocatalysts, including metal sulfides, metal selenides, metal carbides, metal nitrides, metal phosphides, and heteroatom-doped nanocarbons. In the discussion, emphasis is given to the synthetic methods of these HER electrocatalysts, the strategies of performance improvement, and the structure/composition-catalytic activity relationship. We also summarize some important examples showing that non-Pt HER electrocatalysts could serve as efficient cocatalysts for promoting direct solar-to-hydrogen conversion in both photochemical and photoelectrochemical water splitting systems, when combined with suitable semiconductor photocatalysts.

Graphical abstract: Noble metal-free hydrogen evolution catalysts for water splitting

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Article information


Submitted
02 Dec 2014
First published
17 Apr 2015

Chem. Soc. Rev., 2015,44, 5148-5180
Article type
Review Article

Noble metal-free hydrogen evolution catalysts for water splitting

X. Zou and Y. Zhang, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2015, 44, 5148
DOI: 10.1039/C4CS00448E

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