- Press Release
- Mar 31, 2023
Airbus Defence and Space Enters Solar Cell Production Contract with MicroLink Devices
MicroLink Devices is proud to announce that Airbus Defence and Space has issued a production contract for MicroLink’s epitaxial liftoff (ELO)-based multijunction solar sheets for use on the new Zephyr S platform.
The Zephyr platform is a new class of unmanned air vehicle that operates as a high altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) enabling affordable, persistent, local satellite-like services. The aircraft runs exclusively on solar power, and the Zephyr aircraft is at the forefront of the HAPS arena, holding world records with regards to absolute endurance (more than 14 days) and altitude (more than 70,000 feet). The British Ministry of Defence currently has ordered two Zephyr S from Airbus Defence and Space. The Zephyr S has a wingspan of 25 meters, is 30% lighter and can carry 50% more batteries than its predecessor – the 22.5 meter wingspan Zephyr 7. This enables the Zephyr S to carry heavier payloads for surveillance and communications roles. The Zephyr S is designed to fly continuously for over a month before having to land. The vehicle can then be refurbished and redeployed.
MicroLink Devices has developed a lightweight, flexible, high-efficiency solar sheet that is an enabling technology for electrically powered, area and weight constrained applications such as unmanned air vehicles, which run on renewable energy. The combination of high-efficiency and low mass enabled by ELO-based solar cells provides superior performance compared to any other currently available solar cell technology platform. MicroLink’s ELO solar cells are a perfect match for the HAPS platform. The resulting 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.
Dr. Noren Pan, the President and CEO 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 program. We are also thankful to Airbus for their purchase order and the confidence they have in MicroLink’s solar sheet technology and manufacturing ability. 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 stated, “Our collaboration with MicroLink Devices in the development stages and in the current production program has enabled the latest generation of Zephyr HAPS, which is a critical addition to our extensive portfolio of space and defense products. MicroLink Devices is a world leader in the epitaxial liftoff of compound semiconductors providing outstanding performance for many semiconductor devices. Combining Airbus and MicroLink Devices engineering expertise has proven to be a successful platform for our on-going success.”
About Airbus Defence and Space:
Airbus Defence and Space is a division of Airbus Group formed by combining the business activities of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military. The new division is Europe’s number one defense and space enterprise, the second largest space business worldwide and among the top ten global defense enterprises. It employs more than 38,000 employees generating revenues of approximately €13 billion per year.
Airbus Zephyr Link: http://www.militaryaircraft-airbusds.com/Aircraft/UAV/Zephyr.aspx
About MicroLink Devices:
MicroLink Devices is an American owned company located in Niles, IL. Dr. Noren Pan cofounded MicroLink Devices in 2000. MicroLink has specialized in the growth of epitaxial structures that are used to make the high performance HBTs and power amplifiers that are essential to the high-speed communications industry. MicroLink is an ISO 9001 certified semiconductor manufacturer. Over the last eight years, MicroLink has been a prime federal contractor on projects to develop solar cells, detectors, lasers, and high-speed transistors. In recent years, MicroLink has ramped up the production of its ELO-based solar cells and sheets for use in mobile power generation applications.