The method provides for use of sensitized photocatalyst for the photocatalytic reduction of CO.sub.2 under visible light illumination. The photosensitized catalyst is comprised of a wide band gap semiconductor material, a transition metal co-catalyst, and a semiconductor sensitizer. The semiconductor sensitizer is photoexcited by visible light and forms a Type II band alignment with the wide band gap semiconductor material. The wide band gap semiconductor material and the semiconductor sensitizer may be a plurality of particles, and the particle diameters may be selected to accomplish desired band widths and optimize charge injection under visible light illumination by utilizing quantum size effects. In a particular embodiment, CO.sub.2 is reduced under visible light illumination using a CdSe/Pt/TiO2 sensitized photocatalyst with H.sub.2O as a hydrogen source.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to the employer-employee relationship of the Government to the inventors as U.S. Department of Energy employees and site-support contractors at the National Energy Technology Laboratory.