BridgeLux has secured a hefty $40 million round to use for product development and expansion, despite facing ongoing patent litigation from giant LED maker Cree.

BridgeLux, like Cree, makes the chip that is the light-emitting part of LEDs, which it then sells to other firms. The company’s chips are predominantly in electronics and automotive applications, but are also being delivered for use in general lighting for homes and businesses.

The funding is notable because it’s one of the larger LED investments to date. BridgeLux is one of a generation of startups that is working toward the point, likely only a couple years off now, that LED lighting becomes widespread in the consumer lighting market.

In the United States alone, that market is estimated to be worth $1 billion by 2011, growing at about 37 percent each year. Other segments of the LED market will also grow significantly, if not quite as quickly. Adoption should be driven by the higher efficiency, reliability and safety of LEDs over other forms of lighting.

Some other LED companies that have taken funding within the last month including Illumitex, with $5.25 million; Optoelectronix, which took $6 million; and Luminus Devices, which grabbed a whopper round of $72 million in early March.

BridgeLux, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., also took $23 million last August; its total funding is now at $71 million. The lead investor for this round was VentureTech Alliance, which was joined by DCM, El Dorado Ventures, VantagePoint Venture Partners, Chrysalix Energy and Harris & Harris Group.