Alessandro Massa tells Corriere LogIn about the Leonardo Labs

30 May 2022

Alessandro Massa, head of the Leonardo Labs, talks to Corriere LogIn about Leonardo’s new frontier of research: 11 technology areas conceived to develop future applications, ranging from materials research to Quantum studies

“Materials that absorb electromagnetic waves; that allow an object to ‘disappear’ from radar so as to prevent its interception.” Research on the performance of loads subjected to stress and high wear and tear. “The study of graphene for new applications: investigations into the actual usability of the material and the challenges it can meet.” And then thermoplastic materials. “How to keep some environments sealed and retain oxygen inside them: for space applications such as shuttles and stations.” A journey of discovery of the Leonardo Labs and the eleven research and development application areas representing the cutting edge of innovation within the Group.

Massa sees the Leonardo Labs as a real frontier, “a transversal infrastructure, across all divisions, geared towards research and innovation and devoted to developing new technologies in strategic areas for the company.” Not only materials, but also electrification, cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, robotics and digital twins. On electrification, the strategy is “to decrease the environmental impact of mobility by using electricity for civil and cargo flights.” According to Massa, platform investments depend on how far we can scale them over the long term. Electric propulsion is more difficult to realise on long-range aircraft at present, while on short and medium ranges, hybrid or full-electric aircraft are a more tangible proposition. “We are focusing on several areas: fuel cell technologies that obtain electricity directly from hydrogen and oxygen without any thermal combustion. Heat dissipation is critical, especially when charging batteries,” Massa explains.

However, the real challenge is to attract talent to Italy. “The competition is fierce,” says Massa, and “the best are fought over internationally”. This is why Leonardo has recently launched a new selection process that will provide a new skills pool for studying frontier technologies.