In the past decade, research in the field of artificial photosynthesis has shifted from simple, inorganic semiconductors to more abundant, polymeric materials. For example, polymeric carbon nitrides have emerged as promising materials for metal-free semiconductors and metal-free photocatalysts. Polymeric carbon nitride (melon) and related carbon nitride materials are desirable alternatives to industrially used catalysts because they are easily synthesized from abundant and inexpensive starting materials. Furthermore, these materials are chemically benign because they do not contain heavy metal ions, thereby facilitating handling and disposal. In this Review, we discuss the building blocks of carbon nitride materials and examine how strategies in synthesis, templating and post-processing translate from the molecular level to macroscopic properties, such as optical and electronic bandgap. Applications of carbon nitride materials in bulk heterojunctions, laser-patterned memory devices and energy storage devices indicate that photocatalytic overall water splitting on an industrial scale may be realized in the near future and reveal a new avenue of ‘post-silicon electronics’.
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The authors thank A. Thomas, P. F. McMillan, E. Kroke and B. V. Lotsch for illuminating discussions. M.J.B. thanks the Czech Science Foundation (GA CR) for junior grant funding (CAMs–16-21151Y) and the European Research Council (ERC) for funding under the Starting Grant scheme (BEGMAT–678462). X.C.W thanks the National Basic Research Program of China (2013CB632405), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21425309) and the 111 Project for financial support. C.M. thanks the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Grant No. ME 4387/1-1).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Kessler, F., Zheng, Y., Schwarz, D. et al. Functional carbon nitride materials — design strategies for electrochemical devices. Nat Rev Mater 2, 17030 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/natrevmats.2017.30
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