Solid-state lighting is one of my tips for a technology-driven trend in 2013 and no sooner has the year begun than I receive the news that VTT Ventures Ltd. (Espoo, Finland) and Lumichip Oy (Espoo, Finland) have invested in a startup company called LightTherm Ltd. (Oulu, Finland). The far north has the aurora borealis and, in the winter, a great need for lighting. So it should perhaps be no surprise that a Finnish cluster of expertise is developing around the topic of lighting.
LightTherm claims to have a patent-pending proprietary LED die interconnect technology that it reckons can produce cooler semiconductor junction temperatures. The capacity of its technology to produce improved thermal efficiency and management is expected to have a beneficial impact on the lifetime of LEDs for lighting applications. The company aims to combine lower operating temperatures with new materials to produce reduced materials, simpler and automated manufacturing and lower-cost LED light bulbs.
VTT Technical Research Center is a government backed applied research institute and VTT Ventures is chartered with helping to create spin-off companies to exploit the research. Lumichip makes LED chips and packaged light engines and has operations in Finland, Hong Kong and Taiwan. LightTherm's technologies are based on development, characterization and lifetime tests carried out at VTT.
LightTherm's founding team consists of Petri Nyman, Ville Moilanen and Kimmo Jokelainen. CEO and co-founder Nyman has experience with startups as well as in the management of growth companies. Co-founders Moilanen and Jokelainen have a research background with VTT and developed the core innovations behind the technology.
The investors have decided not to disclose the size of the investment they are making in LightTherm at this time. But if the company wants to catch the LED lighting wave it should probably move as quickly as it can. It is forecast that a billion LED light bulbs will be produced in 2013 making an annual market worth about $20 billion. LED technology still faces some challenges, particularly where high light output is required from small compact light units. Many of the components and materials used in manufacture are heat sensitive and overheating can shorten the lifespan.
"LightTherm materials, device construction and manufacturing processes give flexibility in design, and will enable the manufacture of entirely new lighting applications for both consumer and industrial luminaires. We believe this will change completely the way in which LED products are manufactured in the future," said Juha Rantala, chairman of Lumichip, in a statement.
While the need for light and energy conservation make sense in the far north, it is ironic that the place where the extra heat being generated might be a benefit (to heat the space) is where the vendor is minimizing heat production! I hope they find lots of buyers as well in warmer climates.
Good point DrQuine...unless the lighting is outdoor there will be little savings in dissipated power (only during summer) as you need to heat your room anyways...perhaps you gain something in LED reliability