A mini-review of noble-metal-free electrocatalysts for overall water splitting in non-alkaline electrolytes

Jie Yu, Yawen Dai, Qijiao He, Dongqi Zhao, Zongping Shao, Meng Ni

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Development of noble-metal-free materials with remarkable electrocatalytic water-splitting performance in acidic or neutral media has sparked considerable attention in recent years. Herein, we review the latest research on design and fabrication of precious-metal-free catalytic materials for overall water electrolysis in non-alkaline environment, especially highlighting several optimizing approaches to enhance the catalytic behavior and to realize effective bifunctional electrocatalysts. All these involved noble-metal-free electrocatalysts are classified into transition-metal oxides (TMOs), transition-metal nitrides (TMNs), transition-metal carbides (TMCs), transition-metal phosphides (TMPs), transition-metal chalcogenides, metal complexes, and metal-free carbons, as shown in the main part. Besides, the paper also offers an introduction of the fundamental electrochemistry of water splitting before entering the subject, as well as a prospective discussion on mechanism understanding, novel catalysts fabrication, and standardized performance measurements/evaluation in the last section.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100024
JournalMaterials Reports: Energy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Bifunctional catalytic electrode
  • Hydrogen evolution reaction
  • Noble-metal-free electrocatalyst
  • Non-alkaline electrolyte
  • Overall water splitting
  • Oxygen evolution reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Electrochemistry
  • Energy (miscellaneous)


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