Intematix raises $16.2M for next-generation LED lightbulbs

Intematix announced Tuesday it has raised a new round of funding to make LED lighting for homes, businesses, and other mainstream uses.

Light-emitting diodes (LED) have been making their way into our homes in computers, TVs, and other electronics for several years now, but we are still struggling to replace less energy efficient incandescent bulbs found in most homes with their LED counterparts. Part of the reason is that LEDs have had a price tag far higher than most people are willing pay.

Companies such as Bridgelux, Lighting Science Group, and Dixon Technologies have brought the price down in recent years and made LED bulbs available for residential and business uses. But given their current prices, it could still take almost another decade before people choose LED lightbulbs over compact fluorescents or incandescents at their local Home Depot.

That’s a shame, because LED bulbs are more energy efficient than compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL), which have been popular on store shelves ever since they were touted as super long-lasting and better than the traditional bulb.

The other major hurdle to widespread LED lightbulb adoption is the type of light that the diodes produce, which usually has an unflattering and harsh blue tint. Intematix is trying to solve that problem with its phosphor LED coating that creates warmer tones we’ve come to expect from incandescents.

All LEDs use phosphors, a luminescent substance, to emit light. Traditionally, you’d coat the semiconductor that powers the light with a phosphor powder to create a light source. Intematix instead uses phosphor lenses, branded as ChromaLit, that sit above the semiconductor and react to an LED’s blue light to produce light. The result is a LED bulb that emites white light, the type we’re used to seeing from incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs. The lenses can also be altered, by using different phosphors, to create other lighting hues, such as red or green.

Because the lens is separated from the semiconductor, lightbulbs can be made in different shapes, such as flat panels or a dome. Intematix’s technology also cuts down on the chance that the LED will overheat and burn out too quickly because there is air between the semiconductor and the lens.

The company plans to use the new round of funding, led by previous investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Crosslink Capital, and an unnamed new investor, to expand its production facilities and develop its technology.

Intematix was founded in 2000 and is based in Fremont, Calif., just east of Silicon Valley. Since its founding, it has raised a total of $63 million.