Airbus Defence and Space has reached a solar cell production contract with MicroLink Devices for next generation Zephyr high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) military aircraft.
The contract requires MicroLink to produce epitaxial liftoff (ELO)-based multijunction solar sheets that will be used on the new Zephyr S aircraft.
The lightweight and high-efficiency solar sheet enables specific power more than 1,000W/kg and areal powers greater than 250W/m².
The ELO technology is suitable for electrically powered, area and weight constrained applications such as unmanned air vehicles.
Designed to fly continuously for over a month, the solar-powered Zephyr S is 30% lighter and can carry 50% more batteries than its predecessor Zephyr 7.
MicroLink Devices president and CEO Dr. Noren Pan 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."
Airbus is in the process of building Zephyr S, which can fly beyond line of sight (BLOS) using a low-mass and low-power satellite communications system.
The company will deliver two Zephyr S to the UK Ministry of Defence, as part of a previously announced order.
Image: The solar-powered Zephyr S. Photo: courtesy of PRNewsFoto / MicroLink Devices, Inc.