Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting is a promising method for generating green hydrogen as a solar fuel, overcoming the issues associated with unreliability and periodicity of renewable technologies. While research in this field is growing, there is a distinct gap between complex device development and fundamental synthesis of the individual materials. For optimal device fabrication we need materials scientists and engineers to create complex multicomponent photoelectrodes, but also inorganic chemists to design bespoke precursors tailored to produce highly efficient, specifically designed photoelectrode materials. The success of precursor design for semiconductors in fields such as microelectronics has proven the significant impact of the precursor, however, this approach has yet to be used extensively in device fabrication for PEC water splitting. This review acts as a guide towards bespoke precursor development for the fabrication of tailored thin films; particularly how to design the structure and composition of the precursor to promote and enhance the most desired properties, including solubility, volatility, and thermal decomposition. The key areas of focus for device design are outlined, including both single thin film performance and overall device modifications and additions to create a high-performance PEC water splitting electrode. There is a specific emphasis towards chemical vapour deposition techniques due to the suitability for scale-up and commercial application compared to alternatives, and importantly, the significant influence of the molecular precursor on the deposition, and hence its link to synthetic chemistry. We aim to direct more synthetic chemists towards the field of PEC water splitting, encouraging collaboration to connect these two areas and bring the target of a commercially and industrially viable PEC system ever closer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)832-873
Number of pages42
JournalEES Catalysis
Issue number6
Early online date21 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the University of Bath and University of Monash, and the provision of a Bath/Monash PhD studentship to T. R. H. L.; C. L. B. is the recipient of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery
Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA, project number DE200101076), funded by the Australian Government.


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