Intematix Plans to Expand Global LED Market Share

Intematix Corp., a phosphor-technology powerhouse, has begun to carve out its niche in the global LED lighting market by poaching expertise, acquiring facilities, and upgrading LED know-how. The program began last year, the company has opened its Taiwan subsidiary Intematix Technology Center (ITC) in Taoyuan County, northern Taiwan; acquired a phosphor factory in Suzhou, China; and named Jeff Lagaly, the former Global Sales Director for Cree Lighting, as Vice President of Sales, LED Lighting.

Founder, Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Intematix Corp., Dr. Yi-Qun Li notes the Taiwan subsidiary specializes in LED-packaging technology development and manufacturing; lighting-module design; application-system integration design, prototyping and tooling; and manufacturing on the OEM and ODM basis. He emphasizes that their strategy hinges on delivering total LED-lighting solutions. Li points out that lighting manufacturers lack the know-how to apply LED to lighting products without having experts literally lighting the way. The ace that Intematix holds as a total-solution provider is the company’s globally-leading phosphor development technologies, adding that even Nichia Corp. of Japan lags far behind in this aspect. "I think maybe even our product efficiency has exceeded theirs," he estimates, stressing that Intematix’s phosphor technologies do no overlap Nichia’s.

Technological Leapfrogging
Intematix recently added the patented silicate-based yellow-green phosphor to its product lines, which already include green, red, and orange powders. Li says this silicate-based approach to phosphor development provides a fundamental material advancement which has allowed Intematix’s phosphor products to leapfrog past conventional YAG solutions in white-light efficiency, Nichia holds most patents on the yellow YAG powder. Li notes that the silicate-based phosphor can be packaged with wide-ranging color chips, including ultraviolet and blue, to make high-efficiency white-light emitters for a variety of applications. "Silicate-based phosphors are known for efficient absorption of wide light wavelengths," he notes.

Intematix sources chips, silicone and ceramic substrates from dedicated suppliers to combine them with phosphors to make LED emitters at its Taiwan subsidiary, which, using ceramic substrate, recently introduced chip-on-ceramic LED packaging that are available in single-chip and chip-array types. The specifications on the ceramic substrates show that junction thermal resistance of the two emitters are kept within an excellent nine degrees Centigrade per-watt, enabling 30,000 to 40,000 hours of use.

Rare AC LED Provider
The chip-array packaging, codenamed Cetus family, runs on DC or AC, making the company one of only a handful to offer AC LED solutions. The Cetus features a unique cavity design with each cavity connected through LTCC ceramic substrates, allowing Intematix to build any array configuration to deliver color rendering that is pleasant to the eye, virtually mimicking natural light, according to the company’s vice president for engineering, Harik Su, also the inventor of the unique packaging design. He says such arrays truly contain all the desirable features lighting makers look for, including easy design, binning, efficient thermal management, and simplified and scalable power and spatial design.

The Apus line of single chip packaging, using square substrates of only 3mm to 5mm, delivers up to 80lm at one-watt for 5500K cool white and 70lm at one-watt for 3300K warm white. When combined with the company’s latest red phosphor, Apus boasts color rendering typically greater than 90. Cetus is available in configurations of four to hundreds of chips in series or parallel, as well as series-and-parallel combinations. Li predicts that AC LED to mature as lighting technology when its luminous efficacy rises to 100 lumen per watt, a rate he believes will be realized sometime in 2009.

Intematix'product lines range from phosphors, LED packaging, modules to lighting system design and prototyping

Product Range Expansion
Acquiring the phosphor plant in China, renamed Intematix Suzhou Lighting Co., Ltd. (ISL), is part of Intematix’s plan to broaden its current LED offerings by adding compact fluorescent (CFL) and cold cathode fluorescent (CCFL) phosphors. The plant is currently a premium supplier of CFL phosophors in China, which makes about 80% of CFLs worldwide. They expect ISL’s capabilities to catch up to Nichia’s in two years.

ISL’s current infrastructure allows its phosphor capacity to increase over 200 metric tons, rising ultimately to 600 metric tons. Li notes the market can expect to see their LED phosphor technology used to further upgrade ISL’s CFLs and CCFLs; meanwhile direct involvement in high-volume CFL lighting and CCFL backlighting markets will prepare Intematix effectively to develop both LED lighting and LED backlighting technologies once such know-how become commonplace. Li stresses adding ISL to the Intematix team is almost a seamless fit with the company’s current worldwide business structure that includes Intematix Fremont and ITC in Taiwan.

Still relying on American ingenuity, the mainland Chinese factory has all its latest tech supplied by Intematix’s American headquarters. Intematix, since its opening in 2000, boasts an apparently unbeatable team of crack scientists, with a 25-member R&D force, all PhDs including Li himself, who have helped to lay down a solid technological foundation. "We have experts in electronics, photonics, materials, physics and chemistry," says Li, who has a superconductivity-science degree from Stevens Institute of Technology, an elite university in the U.S. Having started up making dielectrics materials for chip-making, optoelectronics and magnetic materials, Li in 2004 diversified into phosphor R&D backed by official American funding.

Savvy Marketing is Key
The company recently brought onboard Jeff Lagaly as its vice president of LED lighting sales to expand its global market share in the segment. Formerly the Global Sales Director for Cree Lighting, Lagaly succeeded to not only introduce but also make the XLamp LED line a $100 million-plus sales generator.

Intematix Chief Executive Peter Larsson notes Jeff’s background, with experience in both the chip and LED sides of the industry, is the perfect complement to the Intematix team. Showing all-round talent, he built both the inside and outside LED-component sales teams, installed local and global distribution networks, and identified customer entry points worldwide, which helped to build the fastest growing business unit at Cree.

Intematix is helping traditional fixture manufacturers enter the SSL market by offering solutions to LED-lighting problems. He is pleased to bring his experience to this team and expect to further brighten the luminosity, with which Intematix has already lit with its new LED and modular LED lighting solutions, Lagaly said.

Also, Intematix has entered into an agreement with Bill Brown Sales, a leading American chain retailer of lighting components, to promote its LED products. Li is confident of his company’s likelihood to become a top brand in global high-power LED packaging and module: "Compared with Nichia and Cree, we have a wider product range like modules," he says.

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