Laser LEDs in the Living Room?

A Massachusetts startup called Luminus Devices wants to make flat-screen LCD TVs brighter and more energy efficient with a type of Light Emitting Diode called a PhlatLight. But because the laser-enhanced technology is so pricey for consumer electronics, the company announced it has taken in $72 million in funding.

The "photonic lattice structures" in the PhlatLight allows the light produced by the LEDs to be controlled much like a laser beam, but manages to produce lots of light per watt of energy consumed. The technology has potential to make high-def look even crisper that current mercury-based fluorescent backlights, but because the system is so expensive, funding was needed to subsidize Luminus Devices' efforts, which hasn't yet announced a time line for bringing a PhlatLight HDTV to market. PhlatLight has already shown up in Samsung rear-projection TVs.

Luminus Devices has a competitor in the back-lit display business: a Dutch company called Liquavista that has also raised funds to develop a technology called "electro-wetting" for flat screen TVs.

If and when either of these technologies ends up on the shelf at Best Buy, they will likely be licensed by very high-end brands of LCDs. It could be many years before average consumers see laser LEDs in their living rooms. -Rachel Rosmarin