Min-Rui Gao, Shu-Hong Yu, Jun Jiang, Ya-Rong Zheng
Since being proposed by John Bockris in 1970, hydrogen economy has emerged as a very promising alternative to the current hydrocarbon economy. Access to reliable and affordable hydrogen economy, however, requires cost-effective and highly efficient electrocatalytic materials that replace noble metals (e.g., Pt, Ir, Ru) to negotiate electrode processes such as oxygen evolution reaction (OER), hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), and oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). Although substantial advances in the development of inexpensive catalysts, successful deployment of these materials in fuel cells and electrolyzers will depend on their improved activity and robustness. Recent research has demonstrated that the nanostructuring of Earth-abundant minerals provides access to newly advanced energy materials, particularly for nanostructured pyrites, which are attracting great interest. Crystalline pyrites commonly contain the characteristic dianion units and have cations occurring in octahedral coordination—whose generalized formula is MX2, where M can be transition metal of groups 8–12 and X is a chalcogen. The diversity of pyrites that are accessible and their versatile and tunable properties make them attractive for a wide range of applications from photovoltaics to energy storage and electrocatalysis. Pyrite-type structures can be further extended to their ternary analogues, for example, CoAsS (cobaltite), NiAsS (gersdorffite), NiSbS (ullmannite), CoPS, and many others. Moreover, improved properties of pyrites can be realized through grafting them with promoter objects (e.g., metal oxides, metal chalcogenides, noble metals, and carbons), which bring favorable interfaces and structural and electronic modulations, thus leading to performance gains. In recent years, research on the synthesis of pyrite nanomaterials and on related structure understanding has dramatically advanced their applications, which offers new perspectives in the search for efficient and robust electrocatalysts, yet a focused review that concentrates the critical developments is still missing.