We report the synthesis of cadmium-aluminum layered double hydroxide (CdAl LDH) using the reaction-diffusion framework. As the hydroxide anions diffuse into an agar gel matrix containing the mixture of aluminum and cadmium salts at a given ratio, they react to give the LDH. The LDH self-assembles inside the pores of the gel matrix into a unique spherical-porous shaped microstructure. The internal and external morphologies of the particles are studied by electron microscopy and tomography revealing interconnected channels and a high surface area. This material is shown to exhibit a promising performance in the photoreduction of carbon dioxide using solar light. Moreover, the palladium-decorated version shows a significant improvement in its reduction potential at room temperature. © 2016 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.