Current understanding and challenges of solar-driven hydrogen generation using polymeric photocatalysts

Yiou Wang, Anastasia Vogel, Michael Sachs, Reiner Sebastian Sprick, Liam Wilbraham, Savio J.A. Moniz, Robert Godin, Martijn A. Zwijnenburg, James R. Durrant, Andrew I. Cooper, Junwang Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

189 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


The use of hydrogen as a fuel, when generated from water using semiconductor photocatalysts and driven by sunlight, is a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Polymeric photocatalysts are based on Earth-abundant elements and have the advantage over their inorganic counterparts in that their electronic properties are easily tuneable through molecular engineering. Polymeric photocatalysts have developed rapidly over the past decade, resulting in the discovery of many active materials. However, our understanding of the key properties underlying their photoinitiated redox processes has not kept pace, and this impedes further progress to generate cost-competitive technologies. Here, we discuss state-of-the-art polymeric photocatalysts and our microscopic understanding of their activities. We conclude with a discussion of five outstanding challenges in this field: non-standardized reporting of activities, limited photochemical stability, insufficient knowledge of reaction mechanisms, balancing charge carrier lifetimes with catalysis timescales and the use of unsustainable sacrificial reagents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)746-760
Number of pages15
JournalNature Energy
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2019


  • hydrogen as fuel
  • photocatalysis
  • solar fuel


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