The conversion of sunlight into fuels and chemicals is an attractive prospect for the storage of renewable energy, and photoelectrocatalytic technologies represent a pathway by which solar fuels might be realized. However, there are numerous scientific challenges in developing these technologies. These include finding suitable materials for the absorption of incident photons, developing more efficient catalysts for both water splitting and the production of fuels, and understanding how interfaces between catalysts, photoabsorbers and electrolytes can be designed to minimize losses and resist degradation. In this Review, we highlight recent milestones in these areas and some key scientific challenges remaining between the current state of the art and a technology that can effectively convert sunlight into fuels and chemicals.
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The OER, ORR and HER work was supported by the US DOE, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Geosciences and Bio Sciences Division through the SUNCAT Center for Interface Science. The work on CO2 reduction was supported by the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, a DOE Energy Innovation Hub, supported through the Office of Science of the US DOE under Award Number DE-SC0004993. Helpful discussions and insights from Jakob Kibsgaard and Thomas Hellstern are also gratefully acknowledged.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Montoya, J., Seitz, L., Chakthranont, P. et al. Materials for solar fuels and chemicals. Nature Mater 16, 70–81 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4778
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