Developing catalytic systems with high efficiency and selectivity is a fundamental issue for photochemical carbon dioxide conversion. In particular, rigorous control of the structure and morphology of photocatalysts is decisive for catalytic performance. Here, we report the synthesis of zinc oxide-copper(I) oxide hybrid nanoparticles as colloidal forms bearing copper (I) oxide nanocubes bound to zinc oxide spherical cores. The zinc oxide-copper(I) oxide nanoparticles behave as photocatalysts for the direct conversion of carbon dioxide to methane in an aqueous medium, under ambient pressure and temperature. The catalysts produce methane with an activity of 1080 mu mol g(cat)(-1) h(-1), a quantum yield of 1.5% and a selectivity for methane of >99%. The catalytic ability of the zinc oxide-copper(I) oxide hybrid catalyst is attributed to excellent band alignment of the zinc-oxide and copper(I) oxide domains, few surface defects which reduce defect-induced charge recombination and enhance electron transfer to the reagents, and a high-surface area colloidal morphology.