Progress, challenge and perspective of heterogeneous photocatalysts
There is increasing interest in developing artificial systems that can mimic natural photosynthesis to directly harvest and convert solar energy into usable or storable energy resources. Photocatalysis, in which solar photons are used to drive redox reactions to produce chemical fuel, is the central process to achieve this goal. Despite significant efforts to date, a practically viable photocatalyst with sufficient efficiency, stability and low cost is yet to be demonstrated. It is often difficult to simultaneously achieve these different performance metrics with a single material component. The heterogeneous photocatalysts with multiple integrated functional components could combine the advantages of different components to overcome the drawbacks of single component photocatalysts. A wide range of heterostructures, including metal/semiconductor, semiconductor/semiconductor, molecule/semiconductor and multi-heteronanostructures, have been explored for improved photocatalysts by increasing the light absorption, promoting the charge separation and transportation, enhancing the redox catalytic activity and prolonging the functional life-time. The present review gives a concise overview of heterogeneous photocatalysts with a focus on the relationship between the structural architecture and the photocatalytic activity and stability.