The biggest challenge in developing new energy conversion technologies such as rechargeable metal-air batteries, regenerated fuel cells and water splitting devices is to find suitable catalysts that can efficiently and stably catalyze the key electrochemical processes involved. This paper reviews the new development of self-supported electrocatalysts in three categories: electrocatalysts growing on rigid substrates, electrocatalysts growing on soft substrates, and free-standing catalyst films. They are distinct and superior to the conventional powdery electrocatalysts, showing advantages in controllable nanostructure and chemical component, flexible electrode configuration, and outstanding catalytic performance. The self-supported electrocatalysts with various architectures like nanowire/plate/pillar arrays and porous films, composed of metals, metal oxides/selenides/phosphides, organic polymers, carbons and their corresponding hybrids, are presented and discussed. These catalysts exhibit high activity, durability and selectivity toward oxygen reduction, oxygen evolution, and/or hydrogen evolution reactions. The perspectives on the relevant areas are also proposed.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2015.10.012