We show that a characteristic two-photon lineshape asymmetry arises in coherent population trapping (CPT) and three-photon resonances, because both resonances are simultaneously induced by modulation sidebands in the interrogating laser light. The N resonance is a three-photon resonance in which a two-photon Raman excitation is combined with a resonant optical pumping field. This joint CPT and N resonance can be the dominant source of lineshape distortion, with direct relevance for the operation of miniaturized atomic frequency standards. We present the results of both an experimental study and theoretical treatment of the asymmetry of the joint CPT and N resonance under conditions typical to the operation of an N resonance clock.
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