Utilization of the internal electric field in semiconductor photocatalysis: A short review

Thangavel Sakthivel, Gunasekaran Venugopal, Arulappan Durairaj, Samuel Vasanthkumar, Xiaoyong Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Photocatalysis denotes as an environmental friendly chemical transformation technique. The rate of photoinduced electron–hole recombination is one of the difficulties encountered in semiconductor photocatalysis. Different alternative systems were suggested to overcome this problem and thereby improve the efficiency of the photocatalyst. Extensively investigated methods were not effective to achieve the required efficiency of the catalyst, because the catalyst charge carrier separation is poor. Among the explored methods, the electron–hole separation using built-in electric field attracts considerable attention as a new concept. A spontaneous potential from the ferroelectric material strongly minimizes the number of photoinduced electron–hole recombination. On the other hand, the spontaneous potential was compensated by the external and internal charge and to alternate the electric field, thermal, mechanical and electric field were applied as an external force. The external force was exerted by different methods, including passage of ultrasound waves, fluid eddy, flowing water, mechanical distribution and changing the temperature. Preliminary work has been carried out using semiconductor-Ferroelectric nanohybrid piezophotocatalyst in environmental remediation for the removal of an organic color and non-colored pollutants. Later, the application was extended to hydrogen production from water splitting and antibacterial material development. Furthermore, the light free catalysts such as piezocatalyst, dark catalyst and vibration catalyst are also examined for last decades. In this review, we summarize the work carried out by the internal electric field induced photocatalyst electron–hole separation (Piezo photocatalyst) and temperature triggered catalyst (Pyrocatalyst). Light free or vibration catalyst (piezocatalyst) work also briefly covered in this review. Overall, the manuscript was discussed in four categories of materials, including BaTiO 3 , ZnO, other ABO3 structures and two-dimensional nanostructures including MoS 2 , WS 2 , MoSe 2 . The challenges encountered, and the present and future scope of the work is also discussed in this review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-30
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry
StatePublished - 25 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Korean Society of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry


  • Built-in electric field
  • Charge carrier separation
  • Degradation
  • External force
  • Piezo photocatalyst


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