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Tri-comb spectroscopy


Multidimensional coherent spectroscopy (MDCS)1,2 is a powerful method that enables the measurement of homogeneous linewidths in inhomogenously broadened systems, many-body interactions and coupling between excited resonances, all of which are not simultaneously accessible by any other method. Current implementations of MDCS require a bulky apparatus and suffer from resolution and acquisition speed limitations that constrain their applications outside the laboratory3,4,5. Here, we propose and demonstrate an approach to nonlinear coherent spectroscopy that utilizes three slightly different repetition-rate frequency combs. Unlike traditional nonlinear methods, tri-comb spectroscopy uses only a single photodetector and no mechanical moving elements to enable faster acquisition times, while also providing comb resolution. As a proof of concept, a multidimensional coherent spectrum with comb cross-diagonal resolution is generated using only 365 ms of data. These improvements make MDCS relevant for systems with narrow resonances and it has the potential to be field deployable for chemical-sensing applications.

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Fig. 1: Experimental set-up.
Fig. 2: Photon echo scan.
Fig. 3: Results.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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The research is based on work supported by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), via contract 2018-18020600001. The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of the ODNI, IARPA or the US government. B.C.S. acknowledges support by the National Science Foundation through a Graduate Research Fellowship (1256260).

Author information




B.L. and S.T.C. conceived the concept. B.L. and B.C.S. ran the experiment and took the data. B.L. analysed the results and wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript at all stages.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Steven T. Cundiff.

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Competing interests

B.L. and S.T.C. are coinventors on patent application 15/705511 submitted by the University of Michigan that covers ‘Frequency comb-based multidimensional coherent spectroscopy’.

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Lomsadze, B., Smith, B.C. & Cundiff, S.T. Tri-comb spectroscopy. Nature Photon 12, 676–680 (2018).

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