Solar water splitting by semiconductor based photoanodes and photocathodes is one of the most promising strategies to convert solar energy to chemical energy to meet the high demand for energy consumption in modern society. However, the state-of-the-art efficiency is too low to fulfill the demand. To overcome this challenge and thus enable the industrial realization of a solar water splitting device, different approaches have been taken to enhance the overall device efficiency, one of which is the incorporation of plasmonic nanostructures. Photoanodes and photocathodes coupled to the optimized plasmonic nanostructures, matching the absorption wavelength of the semiconductors, can exhibit a significantly increased efficiency. So far, gold and silver have been extensively explored to plasmonically enhance water splitting efficiency, with disadvantages of high cost and low enhancement. Instead, non-noble plasmonic metals such as aluminum and copper, are earth-abundant and low cost. In this article, we review their potentials in photoelectrolysis, towards scalable applications.
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