Plants and trees have been making clean energy for billions of years using water and sunlight, so why can’t humans do the same? People have been asking this question for over 100 years and Giacomo Ciamician, an Italian scientist, has been dubbed the father of artificial photosynthesis for his research into what he called “the guarded secret of plants.”

Today, chemist and Harvard professor Daniel G. Nocera has taken up the mantle along with fellow scientists, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. His work and grand vision has been captured in this brief video by filmmaking team Jared Scott and Kelly Nyks (PF Pictures), which recently won a $50,000 FOCUS FORWARD prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Kelly and I were at the ARPA-e conference on energy innovation last February where we were turned on to Dan’s work. After seeing a charismatic and entertaining TED-talk style presentation, we realized we had a great story and a great conductor for that story. Dan isn’t a stuffy professor type – he is funny, magnetic. We set up a time to interview him for 1.5 hours – we ended up interviewing, talking and shooting in the lab for five hours. Inspirational and earnest, Dan says it starts with energy. Solving the energy crisis is the key to solving the climate crisis – and thus the food and water crises,” Scott told Breaking Energy via email.

“We are working on a longer-form version of the Artificial Leaf to chronicle Dan’s quest to bring the leaf to scale – and to market.”