Soft Materials for Photoelectrochemical Fuel Production

Erin Ratcliff, Zhiting Chen, Casey Davis, Eui Hyun Suh, Michael Toney, Neal Armstrong, Obadiah Reid, Ann Greenaway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus Citations


Polymer semiconductors are fascinating materials that could enable delivery of chemical fuels from water and sunlight, offering several potential advantages over their inorganic counterparts. These include extensive synthetic tunability of optoelectronic and redox properties and unique opportunities to tailor catalytic sites via chemical control over the nanoenvironment. Added to this is proven functionality of polymer semiconductors in solar cells, low-cost processability, and potential for large-area scalability. Herein we discuss recent progress on soft photoelectrochemical systems and define three critical knowledge gaps that must be closed for these materials to reach their full potential. We must (1) understand the influence of electrolyte penetration on photoinduced charge separation, transport, and recombination, (2) learn to exploit the swollen polymer/electrolyte interphase to drive selective fuel formation, and (3) establish co-design criteria for soft materials that sustain function in the face of harsh chemical challenges. Achieving these formidable goals would enable tailorable systems for driving photoelectrochemical fuel production at scale.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5116-5127
Number of pages12
JournalACS Energy Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-87248


  • photoelectrochemistry
  • polymer
  • semiconductor
  • solar fuel


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