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Artificial photosynthesis

State of research, scientific and technological challenges, future technologies

The potential of solar energy use is just as great as the scientific and technological questions associated with it. New biomimetic and carbon-based approaches are currently being pursued for applications in both photovoltaics and artificial photosynthesis.

Through artificial photosynthesis, the efficiency of the natural process itself could be increased in the long term, for example through genetic engineering or synthetic biology. Such bio-inspired energy research is placed somewhere between bio and nanotechnology, with important input from molecular biology and microbiology. Light-dependent metal catalysis techniques, for example involving the photocatalytic conversion of CO2 to methanol, can be seen as alternative, complementary or supplementary approaches. Here, sunlight is absorbed by organic dyes and its energy is used to activate CO2 in a combination of new catalytic processes and approaches from nanotechnology and materials research.

The aim of the project is to provide an initial overview of the various research trends in this field and to establish a concrete research demand in Germany for its technical usability until the year 2050.


  • National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities
  • German Academy of Science and Technology acatech (responsible)

Members of the Working Group

  • Prof. Dr. Markus Antonietti
    MPI für Kolloid- und Grenzflächenforschung
  • Prof. Dr. Matthias Beller ML
    Leibniz-Institut für Katalyse e.V. (Leitung)
  • Prof. Dr. Peter Dabrock
    Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • Prof. Dr. Holger Dau
    Freie Universität Berlin
  • Dr. Tobias J. Erb
    MPI für Terrestrische Mikrobiologie
  • Prof. Dr. Bärbel Friedrich ML
    Stiftung Alfried Krupp Kolleg Greifswald
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Grätzel ML
    EPFL Lausanne
  • Prof. Dr. Elizabeth von Hauff
    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Prof. Dr. Robert Huber ML
    MPI für Biochemie
  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rupert Klein
    Freie Universität Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Burkhard König
    Universität Regensburg
  • Prof. Dr. Philipp Kurz
    Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
  • Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Lubitz
    MPI für Chemische Energiekonversion
  • Prof. Dr. Bernd Müller-Röber
    Universität Potsdam
  • Prof. Dr. Hans Peter Peters
    Forschungszentrum Jülich
  • Prof. Dr. Alfred Pühler ML
    Universität Bielefeld
  • Prof. Dr. Bernhard Rieger
    Technische Universität München
  • Prof. Dr. Matthias Rögner
    Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • Prof. Dr. Rudolf K. Thauer ML
    Max-Planck-Institut für Terrestrische Mikrobiologie
  • Prof. Dr. Roel van de Krol
    Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie GmbH
  • Prof. Dr. Eicke Weber
    Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

ML = Member of the Leopoldina



Dr. Elke Witt

Scientific Officer, Department Science - Policy - Society

Phone 0345 - 47 239 - 873
Fax 0345 - 47 239 - 839
E-Mail elke.witt @leopoldina.org