Boston’s LED Cluster: Lighting Up Everything From Projectors to the Pru

4/20/10Follow @xconomy

Boston isn’t Houston as far as energy industry hubs go. But here in New England, there is a lot of innovation with light-emitting diodes, these energy-conserving tools that can be found everywhere from homes to warehouses to urban skyscrapers, and embedded in products like TVs, projectors, medical devices, and software systems.

Light-emitting diodes, which are semiconductors that release energy when voltage is applied, are commonly referred to as LEDs for short. They’ve long been seen as energy-efficient lighting replacements, but the technologies sprouting up out of this city aren’t nearly so straightforward.

“There’s no doubt that we’re at the front end of a major trend here,” says Flybridge Capital Partners general partner Jon Karlen, who sits on the board of Digital Lumens, a Boston-based startup. LED technology started with massive architectural lighting displays from Philips Color Kinetics (another Boston-area fixture), but is spreading to more everyday, consumer uses, he says. “We’re just seeing it crack open general illumination. Everywhere you see a light bulb, there’s going to be an LED fixture in the next five to 10 years.”

We’ve counted at least five companies working in the LED space in Boston. These companies make everything from LED chip inserts for existing lighting fixtures, to commercial scale LED displays, to smart lighting systems that pair efficient LED lighting with sensors and computer systems to intelligently control the illumination in industrial facilities.

There’s a reason why the area’s LED-related companies each seem to do something a bit different, says Canaccord Adams senior equity analyst Jed Dorsheimer, who follows trends in the lighting and solar industries. In almost every segment of the LED production process, there’s room for innovation—from cost to efficiency to overall technology, he says.

“It’s well suited to smaller companies that are more nimble and that can focus on a particular piece or aspect of the supply chain,” he says.

Read below for snapshots of the five companies we rounded up in the space.

—Last year, Wade wrote about this Luminus Devices’ near speed-of-light transition from concept to business. This company is the brainchild of MIT-trained physicist Alexei Erchak and his former advisor, John Joannopolous. Luminus Devices, based in Billerica, MA, now says it makes the world’s brightest LED, in the form of what it calls PhlatLight chipsets, named for photonic lattices. The technology could light up everything from residential spaces to arenas to TV studios, but that depends on getting the LEDs into preexisting devices and fixtures.

Luminus Phlatlight CST90 chipsetThis condition hasn’t deterred Luminus investors. The company has raised … Next Page »

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