ET.20.001 – Innovative design of an artificial leaf (IDEAL)

Route: Energy transition

Cluster question: 014 How can mimicking plant photosynthesis contribute to a new green revolution?

The IDEAL consortium aims to develop citizen autonomy with alternative energy solutions based on artificial photosynthesis, a photochemical process that mimics the natural process for the conversion of water and atmospheric CO2 into renewables using sunlight. By converting sunlight into fuels in a localized manner (e.g. at one’s home), artificial photosynthesis can radically change how we think about fuel production and how we relate to energy as individuals. The IDEAL consortium thus goes beyond traditional ways of thinking about energy and sustainability to imagine novel energy practices that are both socially innovative and socially empowering. To mine the enormous potential of the sun, the consortium plans to develop the core components of a quantum-efficient mimic of natural photosynthesis. We aim for minimizing conversion losses during the process of light harvesting, charge separation and molecular bond breaking and reforming when transforming solar energy, atmospheric CO2 and water into methanol and ethanol. IDEAL envisions a future in which fuels are produced in a sustainable, circular and responsible manner, thus aiming at disrupting across fields and inspiring more people to get involved. The IDEAL consortium engages with society at its very onset, i.e. while the technology is in its making. It is a platform in which scientists, scholars, designers, citizens and the industry come together to imagine desirable futures in which we benefit from the opportunities that the energy transition offer us via artificial photosynthesis that is widely available and socially empowering. To genuinely integrate the social part with the science, we plan to establish an axiomatic design engineering approach in which both the consumer needs and the physico-chemical needs determine the functional requirements and the design parameters for the core components as well as the quantum-efficient mimic as a whole.


artifical photosynthesis, biomimicry, Citizen autonomy, disruptive, quantum-efficient

Other organisations



Organisation Leiden University (LEI)
Name Prof. dr. H.J.M. (Huub) de Groot