The collaboration builds on evaluations already conducted by both companies to explore the benefits of wide bandgap semiconductor materials for aircraft electrification. Wide bandgap semiconductors like Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN) offer superior electrical properties compared with traditional semiconductors like silicon. They are seen as enabling the development of smaller, lighter and more efficient high-performance electronic devices and systems, particularly in applications requiring high power, high frequency, or high-temperature operations.
The co-operation will focus on developing SiC and GaN devices, packages, and modules adapted for Airbus’ aerospace applications. The companies said that they 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 Chief Technical Officer. “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 already has 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, gives us the opportunity to define together new power technologies the industry needs to realise its decarbonisation goals.”
Decarbonising flight requires a range of disruptive solutions that mix new fuel types and disruptive technologies. One such solution, hybrid-electric propulsion, can improve the energy efficiency of every aircraft class and reduce aircraft CO2 emissions by up to 5%. That figure could be as high as 10% 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.