MicroLink to provide solar sheets for new Airbus drones

Airbus Defence and Space's next generation of Zephyr HAPS drones will be powered by MicroLink Devices solar sheet technologies. credit: Airbus

Airbus Defence and Space, a division of European multinational aerospace and defence corporation Airbus Group, has signed with US-based semiconductor manufacturer Microlink Devices to produce epitaxial liftoff (ELO)-based multijunction solar sheets for Airbus’s new drones.

Airbus’s ‘unmanned air vehicle’ known as the Zephyr S, is a high altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS), which runs entirely on solar power and can fly continuously for more than a month at a time. Airbus, which has already received two orders from Britain’s ministry of Defence, claims the drone is for surveillance and communications roles.

The Zephyr S holds various world records including 14 days ‘endurance and flying to altitudes of 70,000 feet. It has a wingspan of 25 metres, while being 30% lighter and carrying 50% more batteries than its predecessor.

MicroLink Devices has developed a lightweight, flexible, high-efficiency solar sheet that suits area and weight constrained applications such as these drones, which run on solar energy.

MicroLink Devices solar sheets are lightweight and flexible with high specific and aeral powers enabling significant mobile power generation. Credit: Microlink

MicroLink's solar sheets have specific powers in excess of 1,000 W/kg and areal powers greater than 250 W/m2. MicroLink's ELO technology was sponsored by numerous US agencies including NASA, DARPA, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Office of Naval Research, NAVAIR, Army Research Office, Army REF, CERDEC, and the Department of Energy.

Noren Pan, president and chief executive of MicroLink Devices, said: “We are extremely pleased to have developed a relationship with the Zephyr team four years ago and to transition our high-performance solar sheet development efforts into a production programme.  

“We know of no other flexible solar sheet that offers a comparable performance in terms of power and weight and reliability under a wide temperature range.”

Steve Whitby, head of HAPS business development, said: “MicroLink Devices is a world leader in the epitaxial liftoff of compound semiconductors providing outstanding performance for many semiconductor devices.”

Read Next

February 4, 2021
Fraunhofer ISE spin-off NexWafe has raised €10 million in a new Series B round of funding as the company moves to another pilot production phase.
June 17, 2020
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles in solar operations and maintenance can reduce costs and save hours of painstaking labour, but only if applied correctly. Aline Kirsten Vidal de Oliveira, Mohammadreza Aghae and Ricardo Rüther explore the optimal use of aerial inspections and emerging methods for analysing the data they gather to identify faults.
August 27, 2019
Construction kick-off of Atacama’s 382MW Campos del Sol sees firm hit fresh Latin American PV milestone, days after making progress with 608MW complex in Brazil.
July 4, 2018
The US Naval Research Laboratory selected Alta Devices, as the solar solution for the prototype Hybrid Tiger UAV, Edgar A. Gunter explores the results and the implications for the thin-film market.
October 16, 2017
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has launched a new investment company based in Silicon Valley, California, which will have R&D and innovation in sustainability and renewable energy among its energy technology focuses.
March 31, 2017
Indian solar pioneer Azure Power has been awarded 46MW of rooftop solar projects by state-run Indian Railways.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
October 4, 2022
New York, USA
On-Demand Webinars, Solar Media Events
October 11, 2022
Virtual event
Upcoming Webinars
October 18, 2022
10am (EDT) / 4pm (CEST)