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Stolarczyk, Jacek K.; Bhattacharyya, Santanu; Polavarapu, Lakshminarayana; Feldmann, Jochen (2018): Challenges and Prospects in Solar Water Splitting and CO2 Reduction with Inorganic and Hybrid Nanostructures. In: ACS Catalysis, Vol. 8, No. 4: pp. 3602-3635
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The inexorable rise of carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere, already exceeding 400 ppm, highlights the need for reduction of CO2 emissions. Harvesting solar energy to drive reverse chemical reactions to fuel combustion offers a possible solution. The produced chemical fuels (e.g. hydrogen, methane, or methanol) are also a convenient means of energy storage, not available in photovoltaic cells. This Review is focused on the heterogeneous photocatalytic water splitting and on CO2, reduction with nanostructured semiconductors, metals, and their hybrids. The stages of light absorption, charge separation and transfer, and surface reactions are discussed, together with possible energy-loss mechanisms and means of their elimination. Many novel materials have been developed in this active field of research, and this Review describes the concepts underpinning the continued progress in the field. The approaches which hold promise for substantial improvement in terms of efficiency, cost, and environmental sustainability are discussed in the second part. These include emerging materials (carbon dots and nitrides, bimetallic catalysts, perovskite oxides, 2D materials), more complex architectures of the photocatalyst (Z-scheme, self-assembly), and mechanisms (defect engineering, hot electron injection, redox mediators). The concluding part provides an outlook for the future directions in the field.