Metal-insulator-semiconductor photoelectrodes for enhanced photoelectrochemical water splitting

Chem Soc Rev. 2024 Jul 1;53(13):6860-6916. doi: 10.1039/d3cs00820g.


Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting provides a scalable and integrated platform to harness renewable solar energy for green hydrogen production. The practical implementation of PEC systems hinges on addressing three critical challenges: enhancing energy conversion efficiency, ensuring long-term stability, and achieving economic viability. Metal-insulator-semiconductor (MIS) heterojunction photoelectrodes have gained significant attention over the last decade for their ability to efficiently segregate photogenerated carriers and mitigate corrosion-induced semiconductor degradation. This review discusses the structural composition and interfacial intricacies of MIS photoelectrodes tailored for PEC water splitting. The application of MIS heterostructures across various semiconductor light-absorbing layers, including traditional photovoltaic-grade semiconductors, metal oxides, and emerging materials, is presented first. Subsequently, this review elucidates the reaction mechanisms and respective merits of vacuum and non-vacuum deposition techniques in the fabrication of the insulator layers. In the context of the metal layers, this review extends beyond the conventional scope, not only by introducing metal-based cocatalysts, but also by exploring the latest advancements in molecular and single-atom catalysts integrated within MIS photoelectrodes. Furthermore, a systematic summary of carrier transfer mechanisms and interface design principles of MIS photoelectrodes is presented, which are pivotal for optimizing energy band alignment and enhancing solar-to-chemical conversion efficiency within the PEC system. Finally, this review explores innovative derivative configurations of MIS photoelectrodes, including back-illuminated MIS photoelectrodes, inverted MIS photoelectrodes, tandem MIS photoelectrodes, and monolithically integrated wireless MIS photoelectrodes. These novel architectures address the limitations of traditional MIS structures by effectively coupling different functional modules, minimizing optical and ohmic losses, and mitigating recombination losses.

Publication types

  • Review