The Fabry-Perot interferometer is the standard instrument for the direct detection Doppler lidar measurement of atmospheric wind speeds. The multibeam Fizeau wedge has some practical advantages over the Fabry-Perot, such as the linear fringe pattern, and is evaluated for this application. The optimal Fizeau must have a resolving power of 106 or more. As the multibeam Fizeau wedge is pushed to such high resolving power, the interference fringes of the device become complicated by asymmetry and secondary maxima. A simple condition for the interferometer plate reflectance, optical gap, and wedge angle reveals whether a set of parameters will yield simple, Airy-like fringes or complex Fizeau fringes. Tilting of the Fizeau wedge improves the fringe shape and permits an extension of the regime of Airy-like fringes to higher resolving power. Sufficient resolving power for the wind lidar application is shown to be possible with a large-gap, low-finesse multibeam Fizeau wedge. Liabilities of the multibeam Fizeau wedge in the wind lidar application include a smaller acceptance solid angle and calibration sensitivity to localized deviations of the plates from the ideal.
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