Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2021, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (8): 2009022.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB202009022

Special Issue: Two-Dimensional Photocatalytic Materials

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Development of Iron-Based Heterogeneous Cocatalysts for Photoelectrochemical Water Oxidation

Yan Li, Xingsheng Hu, Jingwei Huang(), Lei Wang, Houde She, Qizhao Wang()   

  • Received:2020-09-07 Accepted:2020-10-22 Published:2020-10-28
  • Contact: Jingwei Huang,Qizhao Wang;;
  • About author:Email:, Tel: +86-931-7972677 (Q.W.)
    Email: +86-931-7972677 (J.H.)
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21663027);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21808189);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21962018);the Young Teachers'Research Ability Improvement Project of Northwest Normal University(NWNU-LKQN2020-0)


The use of fossil fuels has caused serious environmental problems such as air pollution and the greenhouse effect. Moreover, because fossil fuels are a non-renewable energy source, they cannot meet the continuously increasing demand for energy. Therefore, the development of clean and renewable energy sources is necessitated. Hydrogen energy is a clean, non-polluting renewable energy source that can ease the energy pressure of the whole society. The sunlight received by the Earth is 1.7× 1014 J in 1 s, which far exceeds the total energy consumption of humans in one year. Therefore, conversion of solar energy to valuable hydrogen energy is of significance for reducing the dependence on fossil fuels. Since Fujishima and Honda first reported on TiO2 in 1972, it has been discovered that semiconductors can generate clean, pollution-free hydrogen through water splitting driven by electricity or light. Hydrogen generated through this approach can not only replace fossil fuels but also provide environmentally friendly renewable hydrogen energy, which has attracted considerable attention. Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting can use solar energy to produce clean, sustainable hydrogen energy. Because the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) over a photoanode is sluggish, the overall energy conversion efficiency is considerably low, limiting the practical application of PEC water splitting. A cocatalyst is, thus, necessary to improve PEC water splitting performance. So far, the synthesis of first-row transition-metal-based (e.g., Fe, Co, Ni, and Mn) cocatalysts has been intensively studied. Iron is earth-abundant and less toxic than other transition metals, making it a good cocatalyst. In addition, iron-based compounds exhibit the properties of a semiconductor/metal and have unique electronic structures, which can improve electrical conductivity and water adsorption. Various iron-based catalysts with high activity have been designed to improve the efficiency of PEC water oxidation. This article briefly summarizes the research progress related to the structure, synthesis, and application of iron oxyhydroxides, iron-based layered double hydroxides, and iron-based perovskites and discusses the evaluation of the performance of these cocatalysts toward photoelectrochemical water oxidation.

Key words: Photoelectrochemical water splitting, Oxygen evolution reaction, Ferric hydroxide, Iron-based layered double hydroxide, Iron-based perovskites