Artificial Intelligence Software for Photonics Semiconductor Fabrication

Solicitation number EN578-20ISC3/39

Publication date

Closing date and time 2020/05/22 14:00 EDT

Last amendment date


    *** NEW – May 19, 2020

    • An attachment has been added. The document contains questions and answers related to the Challenge


    May 8, 2020

    New attachment has been added. Please read the document as it provides important information pertaining to the submission of your proposal.


    May 5, 2020

    • The closing date for this challenge has been extended to May 22, 2020 at 14:00 EDT.


    April 14, 2020

    Due to the issues surrounding COVID19, we have decided to extend the solicitation closing date until May 7, 2020.

    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.

    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: AI Software for Photonics Semiconductor Fabrication

    CHALLENGE SPONSOR: National Research Council of Canada (NRC)

    Funding Mechanism: Contract


    Multiple contracts could result from this Challenge.

    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, for up to 6 months (excluding submission of the final report).

    Estimated number of Phase 1 contracts: 2

    The maximum funding available for any Phase 2 contract resulting from this Challenge is $300,000.00 CAD excluding applicable taxes, shipping, travel and living expenses, as required, for up to 12 months (excluding submission of the final report). Only eligible businesses that have successfully completed Phase 1 will be considered for Phase 2.

    Estimated number of Phase 2 contracts: 1

    This disclosure is made in good faith and does not commit Canada to 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.

    TRAVEL:  For Phase 1 it is anticipated that two meetings will require the successful bidder(s) to travel to the location identified below:

    Kick-off meeting

    Ottawa, ON

    Final Review Meeting

    Ottawa, ON

    All other communication can take place by telephone, videoconference, and WebEx.

    Problem Summary Statement

    NRC is seeking a software solution that will, through the use of models and data analysis, predict and control the wavelength of a grown semiconductor structure during its fabrication.

    Problem Statement

    Through the Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre (CPFC), the NRC offers semiconductor foundry services to our clients for the fabrication of photonic devices. An essential part of those services is the growth by metallo-organic chemical vapour deposition (MOCVD) of heterostructures based on Gallium, Indium, Arsenic, and Phosphorus GaInAsP or Aluminum, Gallium, Indium, and Arsenic (AlGaInAs). The optical properties of these heterostructures are critical for the device performance, and is usually described by the photoluminescence (PL) wavelength, specified as a target (i.e., 1400 nm) and a variation around this target (± 5 nm). Current models used to target this PL wavelength are accurate within ±15 nm. As specifications are often tighter than this, experimental fine-tuning is needed to meet our clients’ needs. This fine-tuning is done using calibration runs, which are costly and time-consuming.

    NRC would like to see a modeling software developed that will, using empirical parameters as inputs, accurately predict the PL wavelength of a grown heterostructure, without the need for calibration runs.

    Desired Outcomes and Considerations

    Essential (Mandatory) Outcomes

    NRC is looking for a software that can predict the PhotoLuminescence (PL) wavelength of an epitaxially grown semiconductor heterostructure containing a combination of AlGaInAsP layers within ±5 nm of the actual result, for each wafer.

    Proposed solutions must:

    Phase 1:

    At the end of phase 1, a proof-of-concept software is required. This software must:

    1. Be able to extract data from text files for the various process inputs and outputs, with an error rate less than 1%. The inputs and outputs to read are:PL maps, X-ray Diffraction (XRD) profile, Metalorganic Chemical Vapour Deposition (MOCVD) recipe, temperature profile, reflectivity profile, run log. Approximately 500 datapoints are available for each and will be provided by NRC.
    2. Be able to produce a model based on this data and machine learning principles that can, when given a structure and recipe, predict a PL wavelength.
    3. Demonstrate that PL variations are non-stochastic below ± 5 nm.
    4. Be usable on any windows-based PC, running windows XP or newer versions. 

    Phase 2:

    At the end of phase 2, in addition to phase 1 requirements, the software must:

    1. Be able to predict the PL wavelength within ± 5 nm for any combination of compositions (Al,Ga,In,As,P) and layer structure, within the boundaries of the available data, when using a MOCVD recipe and a structure as input.
    2. Be adaptable by the user; the software must be able to read new data and update its model under the user’s control.
    3. Be able to provide recipe parameters when given a structure, target PL, and recent run results, and have the resulting PL be within ±5 nm of this target. The user must be able to fix parameters. Parameters are, for each layer in a structure: Temperature, zone heating, time, multiple gas flows.
    4. Be applicable to any MOCVD tool of comparable capability.

    Note: Bidders are reminded that under Question 1 a (Scope) proposals must describe how solutions clearly meet all eight of the Essential (Mandatory) Outcomes listed in this section. Bidders should focus their Phase 1 project plan on demonstrating the feasibility of Essential Criteria 1-4. The remainder of the Essential Outcomes can be focused on during Phase 2 work.

    Background and Context

    The CPFC foundry service at the NRC is a low volume, high diversity semiconductor manufacturing environment that provides early-stage development and pilot-scale production of photonic devices for a variety of clients including a number of Canadian SMEs. The semiconductor devices produced, such as amplifiers and lasers, are tailored to meet a specific client’s need, including a very specific PL wavelength. Growth of a new structure must largely rely on an iterative process of calibration and measurement. The difficulty lies in finding the precise combination of input parameters to produce the required output PL wavelength.

    Currently available state-of-the-art modeling software are powerful theoretical models that are well suited to predicting qualitative trends. However, when used to make quantitative predictions of output parameters, such as the PL wavelength, these models are often inaccurate, differing from empirical results by a substantial amount. This inaccuracy is further compounded by natural variations associated with the growth process. Such models therefore cannot be used in isolation to target a specific output parameter; an iterative process of calibration and measurement is also necessary.

    Semi-empirical models are often used to bridge the gap between the previous models and empirical results. This method encounters two issues:

    • They are only applicable to a specific semiconductor structure. In a high diversity, low volume foundry, each structure will require its own empirical model.
    • These semi-empirical models are only applicable to a specific process rather than being of general use.

    The goal of this challenge is to leverage the disparate data available from a low volume, high diversity foundry to build an empirical modelling system that is generic enough to be applicable to a wide variety of semiconductor structures.


    All enquiries must be submitted in writing to no later than ten calendar days before the Challenge Notice closing date. Enquiries received after that time may not be answered.

    Contract duration

    Refer to the description above for full details.

    Trade agreements

    • No trade agreements are applicable to this solicitation process

    Partner with another business

    The functionality to add your company name to the list of interested businesses is temporarily unavailable.

    This list does not replace or affect the tendering procedures for this procurement process. Businesses are still required to respond to bid solicitations, and to compete based on the set criteria. For more information please read the Terms of use.

    Contact information

    Contracting organization

    Public Works and Government Services Canada
    11 Laurier St, Phase III, Place du Portage
    Gatineau, Quebec, K1A 0S5
    Contracting authority
    Secrétariat de Solutions Innovatrices Canada / Innovative Solutions Canada Secretariat
    10 rue Wellington
    Gatineau, QC, K1A 0S5

    Buying organization(s)

    Public Works and Government Services Canada
    11 Laurier St, Phase III, Place du Portage
    Gatineau, Quebec, K1A 0S5
    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.

    Eligibility and terms and conditions

    Government of Canada tender and awards notices, solicitation documents, and other attachments are fully accessible and available free of charge and without having to register on CanadaBuys.

    Information may be available on another source prior to being available on CanadaBuys. You may have received this information through a third-party distributor. The Government of Canada is not responsible for any tender notices and/or related documents and attachments not accessed directly from

    Government of Canada tender or award notices carry an OpenGovernment License - Canada that governs its use. Related solicitation documents and/or tender attachments are copyright protected. Please refer to our terms and conditions page for more information.

    Summary information

    Notice type
    Request for Proposal
    English, French
    Region(s) of delivery
    Region of opportunity
    Procurement method
    Competitive – Open Bidding

    Support for small and medium businesses

    If you have questions about this tender opportunity, please contact the contracting officer, whose information is found in the Contact information tab. 

    Refer to our Support page if you need help or have questions about the government procurement process, including how to bid or how to register in SAP Ariba. You can also contact Procurement Assistance Canada, which has offices across Canada.


    Date modified: