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Optical Fiber Sensor Interrogator

Solicitation number EN578-20ISC3/79

Publication date

Closing date and time 2023/11/15 14:00 EST

Last amendment date


    *Please note that the ISC website will be available on October 4, 2023 at 10:30am EDT.*
    **AMENDMENT 001 - An attachment has been added. The document contains questions and answers related to the Challenge.

    This Challenge Notice is issued under the Innovative Solutions Canada Program (ISC) Call for Proposals 003 (EN578-20ISC3). For general ISC information, Bidders can visit the ISC website at:

    Please refer to the Solicitation Documents (…) which contain the process for submitting a proposal.

    Steps to apply:
    Step 1: read this challenge
    Step 2: read the Call for Proposals :…
    Step 3: propose your solution here :…

    Challenge title: Optical Fiber Sensor Interrogator
    Challenge sponsor: National Research Council of Canada (NRC)

    Funding Mechanism: Contract
    Multiple contracts could result from this Challenge.

    Phase 1:
    • The maximum funding available for any Phase 1 contract resulting from this Challenge is : $150,000.00 CAD excluding applicable taxes, shipping, travel and living expenses, as required.
    • The maximum duration for any Phase 1 contract resulting from this Challenge is up to 6 months (excluding submission of the final report).
    • Estimated number of Phase 1 contracts: 2

    Phase 2:
    Note: Only eligible businesses that have successfully completed Phase 1 will be invited to submit a proposal for Phase 2.

    • The maximum funding available for any Phase 2 contract resulting from this Challenge is : $1,000,000.00 CAD excluding applicable taxes, shipping, travel and living expenses, as required.
    • The maximum duration for any Phase 2 contract resulting from this Challenge is up to 24 months (excluding submission of the final report).
    • Estimated number of Phase 2 contracts: 1

    This disclosure is made in good faith and does not commit Canada to award any contract for the total approximate funding. Final decisions on the number of Phase 1 and Phase 2 awards will be made by Canada on the basis of factors such as evaluation results, departmental priorities and availability of funds. Canada reserves the right to make partial awards and to negotiate project scope changes.

    Note: Selected companies are eligible to receive one contract per phase per challenge.

    No travel is anticipated in Phase 1. Project meetings will be conducted via video conferencing.

    Problem statement:

    Challenge Statement Summary
    The National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Security and Disruptive Technologies (SDT) Research Centre hosts a number of research teams exploring the fundamentals and applications of ultrafast quantum optics, quantum photonics and fiber optics. Over the past decade, the Fibre Photonics team within SDT have developed state-of-the-art ultrafast laser inscription of FBG technology that can be used for sensing in extreme environments (high temperatures, pressures and ionizing conditions). Methods and techniques developed by the team remove several key processing steps in traditional FBG manufacturing which enables the fabrication of quasi-distributed FBG sensor arrays with potentially hundreds to thousands of FBG sensors on a given fiber. These techniques have been transferred to Canadian industry through licensing. There is a wide range of applications of such sensor arrays including structural health monitoring of civil structures (bridges, hydro-electric dams, wind turbines etc.), energy production and environmental monitoring (oil pipelines, gas turbines), green technologies (electric vehicle battery performance), that cannot be cost-effectively addressed using existing technology.

    An important limitation of this new quasi-distributed sensing technology is that traditional FBG sensor interrogation methods are limited in the number of sensing elements that can be measured. Cost competitive equipment that can measure up to thousands of sensors is required in order to unleash the full potential of the ultrafast laser inscription intellectual property developed by NRC. However, none is commercially available.

    In this challenge, the NRC is seeking the demonstration of a data acquisition system (interrogator) with the ability to interrogate both spectrally and spatially hundreds if not thousands of FBG sensing elements that are present on distributed fiber optic sensing array on a single optical fiber.


    Essential Outcomes
    Proposed solutions must:

    1. Have the dual capability of discriminating an individual FBG reflection wavelength from other FBGs (wavelength division multiplexing – WDM) as well as determining the FBG location via time-of-flight measurements (time division multiplexing-TDM)
    2. Wavelength range in the telecom C-band (1528 to 1568 nm)
    3. Output power: > 13 dBm
    4. Laser linewidth: < 10 MHz
    5. Wavelength accuracy: < ± 5pm
    6. Wavelength tuning repeatability: < ± 5 pm
    7. Laser tuning step resolution: 8 pm
    8. Output channels: at least 16
    9. Input channels (return fibers): at least 16
    10. Laser scanning rate: 1 Hz to 200 kHz
    11. Laser optical interface: FC/APC
    12. Self-calibrated wavelength with internal reference
    13. Have ethernet or WiFi communication interfaces

    Additional outcomes
    The proposed solution should:

    1. Interrogate up to 1000 FBGs in a single fiber strand.
    2. Depending on FBG sensor array, be able to operate in WDM mode only, TDM mode only (for single wavelength FBG arrays) or in TDM/WDM hybrid mode.
    3. Have a flexible user interface software including optical power versus wavelength output data formatting.

    Background & Context
    The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has committed to an integrated approach and coordinated effort with innovators across the country to address current Canadian and global challenges such as the establishment of a low carbon economy, development of clean technologies and clean resources. Distributed sensing technology that can monitor and maintain safe and resilient energy production and storage systems as well as infrastructure are key to realize these objectives. Fiber Bragg grating-based distributed sensor technology is a promising solution as it can operate in the harsh environments often associated with energy production and storage (high temperatures, high electro-magnetic fields, ionizing radiation and corrosive environments). Specific examples include electric vehicle battery pack monitoring or oil pipeline leak detection.

    The optical fiber sensor market is ~$2 billion/year globally with applications largely divided into several sectors: energy, defence, industrial, civil and medical. The fiber Bragg grating market is presently $670 million but is projected to grow to more than $2 billion by 2024, largely driven by expansion in the optical sensing market. The Canadian photonics industry has several players in this market. Canadian photonic companies who compete in this challenge to develop an FBG interrogator that can monitor thousands of sensors will have a global competitive advantage. The Canadian Photonic Industry Consortium, in a pre-budget submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finances in 2016 highlighted the importance of supporting the Canadian photonic industry as the USA and EU are developing their photonic strategy and focusing on their own economy. It also highlighted the importance of the Build in Canada Innovation Program to the photonic industry. This proposed Innovative Solution Canada challenge will place Canadian photonic companies developing FBG based systems in the telecom and in the sensor markets with a competitive advantage.

    Contract duration

    The estimated contract period will be 6 month(s).

    Trade agreements

    • No trade agreements are applicable to this solicitation process

    Reason for limited tendering

    A contracting officer can use limited tendering for specific reasons outlined in the applicable trade agreements. The reason for this contract is described below:

    • Prototype Purchase

    Partner with another business

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    Businesses interested in partnering for this tender opportunity:
    Note: Information may not be available in both English and French. This is because the Official Languages Act does not apply.

    Contact information

    Contracting organization


    10 Wellington Street

    Gatineau, Quebec, K1A0S5
    Contracting authority
    (111) 111-1111

    10 Wellington Street

    Gatineau, Quebec, K1A0S5
    Bidding details

    Full details regarding this tender opportunity are available in the documents below. Click on the document name to download the file. Contact the contracting officer if you have any questions regarding these documents.

    Tender documents
    Document title Amendment no. Language Unique downloads Date added

    Access the Getting started page for details on how to bid, and more.

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    Summary information

    Notice type
    Request for Proposal
    English, French
    Region(s) of delivery
    Region of opportunity
    Contract duration
    6 month(s)
    Procurement method
    Competitive – Selective Tendering
    Selection criteria
    Variations or combinations of the above methods

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