Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Soraa and Kaai, an All Star LED Company

Soraa is a stealth cleantech startup that is focusing on LED technology and Kaai , workng for Blue Lasers. Khosla Ventures has invested in both of the aforementioned firms, and while company representatives aren't disclosing much at the moment, we do know that the duo is exploring ways to "exploit gallium nitride", which is also the basis for existing blue LEDs and blue lasers.Soraa is also known as SJS Technology, and is reportedly in the midst of a $5M fund raise.

What makes the companies intriguing are the founders Shuji Nakamura, Stephen DenBaars and some of the ex-staff from Lumileds and Cree. In Japan LED circle, Shuji Nakamura is a major celebrity. Nakamura invented the blue LED in the early '1993 while working for Nichia.
Nakamura also made history by suing his employer, which gave him a bonus of around $200 for his invention, and winning in court. The somewhat un-Japanese action on Nakamura's part resulted in a settlement in the millions. He later became a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He also won the Millennium Technology Prize. (Refer to the interesting biography of Nakamura by Bob Johnstone called Brilliant I introduced beginning of the Month).

Stephen DenBaars, a professor of material science at the University of California at Santa Barbara, is one of the leading researchers on LEDs. DenBaars has said that if 25 percent of the lightbulbs in the U.S. were converted to LEDs putting out 150 lumens per watt (higher than the commercial standard now), the U.S. as a whole could save $115 billion in utility costs, cumulatively, by 2025. "They (Nakamura and DenBaars) found the next breakthrough in LEDs in 2000 and they have been working on it for seven years," said Tamer. Tamer, who formerly worked at Broadcom, will primarily focus on energy-efficiency investments. Earlier this month, for instance, the firm announced it has an investment in EcoMotors, which is developing diesel engines that could get 100 miles per gallon.

Let's watch out for the possibly brightest LED ever made by Soraa!


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