Luminus Deal Brightens Future for LED Lighting

If you’re not crazy about the compact fluorescent lights being touted as the future of home lighting, but you want something more environmentally conscious than Thomas Edison’s old incandescent bulb, Luminus Devices of Billerica, MA, may soon have just the thing for you.

Luminus makes very bright LEDs, and has been doing a nice business for itself selling them to companies like Samsung—which uses them as light sources in large-screen projection TVs over 50 inches—and LG Electronics, which builds them into portable projectors. But last October Luminus announced it wanted to expand into the general illumination business, and hired as its director of sales David Sciabica, a former vice president for sales at Philips Lumileds, that lighting company’s LED division. This week Luminus inked a deal with Avnet Electronics Marketing of Phoenix, AZ, which sells various electronic components in more than 70 countries. Avnet will provide distribution, design, and supply-chain services for Luminus’s Phlatlight technology in the illumination market.

Luminus color LEDs“Phlatlight” comes from the term “photonic lattice,” the technology that makes Luminus’s LEDs so bright. An LED is basically a tiny bit of semiconductor. When you run electricity through it, some percent of the electrons get converted into photons—but a fair number of those photons get reabsorbed and turn into heat before they make it out of the LED. A photonic lattice is a regular series of features inscribed into the LED, with spacing close the wavelength of the light involved. The lattice forces the photons to travel along desired paths, so more of them make it out of the LED, producing more light.

“PhlatLight LEDs produce thousands of lumens from a single large chip and are uniquely suited to replace halogen, arc and fluorescent lamps in many applications such as entertainment, architectural and medical lighting,” said Cary Eskow, director of Avnet LightSpeed, the Avnet division that will handle the LEDs, in a statement announcing the deal.

The photonic lattice technology came out of the lab of MIT professor John Joannopoulos, and was further developed by Alexei Erchak, who earned his Ph.D. there in 2002 and co-founded the company with Joannopoulos that same year. The company has at least 11 US patents and has reportedly raised $67 million in financing.

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