LED company aims to improve TVs, gets $72 million

Luminus Devices says it has a super-efficient LED that can direct light like a laser. The company also now has $72 million to see if it can pull it off.

Luminus Devices, a company that wants to change the lighting systems in digital TVs and in buildings, has raised $72 million in its latest round of funding.

The company, which grew out of research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, makes the Phlatlight LED (light-emitting diode), a type of LED that combines some of the qualities of both LEDs and lasers. The Phlat in Phlatlight stands for "photonic lattice structures." Basically, the lattice creates a situation where light can be precisely controlled (like a laser). The Phlatlight also can extract large amounts of light per watt, like an LED.

Luminus Devices' newest PhlatLight LED. Luminus Devices

The company has been selling light sources to the projection TV business and now wants to move into supplying components to the LCD TV business. It makes sense. Projection TVs are dying off, and LCD manufacturers are moving toward LED as a light source. High-end manufacturers like Samsung and Sony, moreover, are looking for exotic technologies that can separate them from Polaroid, Vizio, and the other discount TV specialists.

The company demonstrated a backlight for LCD TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year.

It has also set its sights on the general lighting market.

Investors include Braemar Ventures and CMEA.

Everyone loves lighting these days. Khosla Ventures is helping incubate two companies, Kaai and Soraa , which hope to come up with lasers and LEDs to succeed those currently used in Blu-ray devices. Shuji Nakamura, who invented the blue LED, participates in both companies.

Meanwhile, Luxim, which has been making light sources for projection TVs, is moving into commercial lighting. Earlier this year, the company got $21 million.

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    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.

     

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