Self-gating in semiconductor electrocatalysis

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

170 Scopus Citations
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  • Yongmin He
  • Luqing Wang
  • Chao Zhu
  • Prafful Golani
  • Albertus D. Handoko
  • Xuechao Yu
  • Caitian Gao
  • Mengning Ding
  • Xuewen Wang
  • Fucai Liu
  • Qingsheng Zeng
  • Peng Yu
  • Shasha Guo
  • Boris I. Yakobson
  • Liang Wang
  • Zhi Wei Seh
  • Zhuhua Zhang
  • Minghong Wu
  • Qi Jie Wang
  • Zheng Liu

Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1098–1104
Journal / PublicationNature Materials
Online published22 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


The semiconductor–electrolyte interface dominates the behaviours of semiconductor electrocatalysis, which has been modelled as a Schottky-analogue junction according to classical electron transfer theories. However, this model cannot be used to explain the extremely high carrier accumulations in ultrathin semiconductor catalysis observed in our work. Inspired by the recently developed ion-controlled electronics, we revisit the semiconductor–electrolyte interface and unravel a universal self-gating phenomenon through microcell-based in situ electronic/electrochemical measurements to clarify the electronic-conduction modulation of semiconductors during the electrocatalytic reaction. We then demonstrate that the type of semiconductor catalyst strongly correlates with their electrocatalysis; that is, n-type semiconductor catalysts favour cathodic reactions such as the hydrogen evolution reaction, p-type ones prefer anodic reactions such as the oxygen evolution reaction and bipolar ones tend to perform both anodic and cathodic reactions. Our study provides new insight into the electronic origin of the semiconductor–electrolyte interface during electrocatalysis, paving the way for designing high-performance semiconductor catalysts.

Citation Format(s)

Self-gating in semiconductor electrocatalysis. / He, Yongmin; He, Qiyuan; Wang, Luqing et al.
In: Nature Materials, Vol. 18, 2019, p. 1098–1104.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review