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Photocatalytic splitting of water.

Skillen, Nathan; McCullagh, Cathy; Adams, Morgan


Nathan Skillen


Peter K.J. Robertson

Detlef W. Bahnemann


The use of photocatalysis for the photosplitting of water to generate hydrogen and oxygen has gained interest as a method for the conversion and storage of solar energy. The application of photocatalysis through catalyst engineering, mechanistic studies and photoreactor development has highlighted the potential of this technology, with the number of publications significantly increasing in the past few decades. In 1972 Fujishima and Honda described a photoelectrochemical system capable of generating H2 and O2 using thin-film TiO2. Since this publication, a diverse range of catalysts and platforms have been deployed, along with a varying range of photoreactors coupled with photoelectrochemical and photovoltaic technology. This chapter aims to provide a comprehensive overview of photocatalytic technology applied to overall H2O splitting. An insight into the electronic and geometric structure of catalysts is given based upon the one- and two-step photocatalyst systems. One-step photocatalysts are discussed based upon their d0 and d10 electron configuration and core metal ion including transition metal oxides, typical metal oxides and metal nitrides. The two-step approach, referred to as the Z-scheme, is discussed as an alternative approach to the traditional one-step mechanism, and the potential of the system to utilise visible and solar irradiation. In addition to this the mechanistic procedure of H2O splitting is reviewed to provide the reader with a detailed understanding of the process. Finally, the development of photoreactors and reactor properties are discussed with a view towards the photoelectrochemical splitting of H2O.


SKILLEN, N., MCCULLAGH, C. and ADAMS, M. 2015. Photocatalytic splitting of water. In Bahnemann, D. and Robertson, P.K.J. (eds.) Environmental Photochemistry Part III. The handbook of environmental chemistry, 35. Berlin: Springer [online], pages 45-86. Available at:

Online Publication Date Mar 26, 2014
Publication Date Dec 31, 2015
Deposit Date Apr 1, 2015
Publicly Available Date Apr 1, 2015
Publisher Springer
Pages 45-86
Series Title The handbook of environmental chemistry
Series Number 35
Series ISSN 1867-979X
Book Title Environmental Photochemistry Part III
ISBN 9783662467947; 9783662508916
Keywords Photocatalysis; Photoelectrochemistry; Photoreactors; Semiconductors; Water splitting
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