Airbus and ST collaborate on power chips for e-planes
R&D collaboration on SiC and GaN power chips to help aerospace industry’s transition to hybrid and full-electric systems
Aerospace company Airbus and STMicroelectronics have signed an agreement to cooperate on SiC and GaN power electronics R&D to support more efficient and lighter power electronics, essential for future hybrid-powered aircraft and full-electric urban air vehicles.
Hybrid-electric propulsion, for example, can improve the energy efficiency of every aircraft class and reduce aircraft CO2 emissions by up to 5 percent. That figure could be as high as 10 percent for helicopters, generally lighter than fixed-wing aircraft. Future hybrid and full electric aircraft require megawatts of power to operate. This implies huge improvements in power electronics in terms of integration, performance, efficiency, and component size and weight.
The collaboration, which builds on the companies' previous evaluations exploring the benefits of SiC and GaN semiconductors for aircraft electrification, will focus on developing SiC and GaN devices, packages, and modules adapted for Airbus’ aerospace applications. The companies will assess these components by conducting advanced research and tests on demonstrators, such as e-motor control units, high and low voltage power converters, and wireless power transfer systems.
“This collaboration with STMicroelectronics, a global leader in power semiconductors and wide bandgap technologies, will be key to support Airbus’ electrification roadmap,” said Sabine Klauke, Airbus CTO. “Leveraging their expertise and experience in power electronics for automotive and industrial applications with our own record in aircraft and VTOL electrification will help us accelerate the development of the disruptive technologies required for the ZEROe roadmap and CityAirbus NextGen.”
“STMicroelectronics is the market leader at the cutting edge of the development of innovative power semiconductors with higher-efficiency products and solutions based on advanced materials, such as SiC and GaN. We already have a strong, transformational presence in mobility and industrial applications, reinforced by a vertically integrated global SiC supply chain, to support our customers globally with electrification and decarbonisation,” said Jerome Roux, president, sales & marketing, STMicroelectronics. “Aerospace is a highly demanding market with specific requirements. Cooperating with Airbus, a global leader in this industry, gives us the opportunity to define together new power technologies the industry needs to realise its decarbonisation goals.”