Splitting Water with Cobalt

11 Jul


The future of energy supply depends on innovative breakthroughs regarding the design of cheap, sustainable, and efficient systems for the conversion and storage of renewable energy sources, such as solar energy. The production of hydrogen, a fuel with remarkable properties, through sunlight-driven water splitting appears to be a promising and appealing solution. While the active sites of enzymes involved in the overall water-splitting process in natural systems, namely hydrogenases and photosystem II, use iron, nickel, and manganese ions, cobalt has emerged in the past five years as the most versatile non-noble metal for the development of synthetic H2- and O2-evolving catalysts. Such catalysts can be further coupled with photosensitizers to generate photocatalytic systems for light-induced hydrogen evolution from water.

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It’s cobalt’s turn: Splitting water with light appears to be a promising solution for the renewable production of a fuel such as hydrogen. Recent developments on cobalt-based catalysts for H2 or O2 evolution are discussed, along with how they can be coupled with photosensitizers, to generate light-driven systems, or immobilized onto conducting materials to form electrodes or photoelectrodes for integration in a photoelectrochemical cell.