Photorealistic ray tracing of free-space
invisibility cloaks made of uniaxial dielectrics
Jad C. Halimeh1,* and Martin Wegener2
1Physics Department and Arnold Sommerfeld Center for Theoretical Physics,
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, D-80333 München, Germany
2Institut für Angewandte Physik, DFG-Center for Functional Nanostructures (CFN),
and Institut für Nanotechnologie, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT),
D-76128 Karlsruhe, Germany
Abstract: The design rules of transformation optics generally lead to
spatially inhomogeneous and anisotropic impedance-matched magneto-
dielectric material distributions for, e.g., free-space invisibility cloaks.
Recently, simplified anisotropic non-magnetic free-space cloaks made of a
locally uniaxial dielectric material (calcite) have been realized
experimentally. In a two-dimensional setting and for in-plane polarized light
propagating in this plane, the cloaking performance can still be perfect for
light rays. However, for general views in three dimensions, various
imperfections are expected. In this paper, we study two different purely
dielectric uniaxial cylindrical free-space cloaks. For one, the optic axis is
along the radial direction, for the other one it is along the azimuthal
direction. The azimuthal uniaxial cloak has not been suggested previously to
the best of our knowledge. We visualize the cloaking performance of both
by calculating photorealistic images rendered by ray tracing. Following and
complementing our previous ray-tracing work, we use an equation of
motion directly derived from Fermat’s principle. The rendered images
generally exhibit significant imperfections. This includes the obvious fact
that cloaking does not work at all for horizontal or for ordinary linear
polarization of light. Moreover, more subtle effects occur such as viewing-
angle-dependent aberrations. However, we still find amazingly good
cloaking performance for the purely dielectric azimuthal uniaxial cloak.
OCIS codes: (080.0080) Geometric optics; (230.3205) Invisibility cloaks; (160.3918)
Metamaterials; (080.2710) Inhomogeneous optical media.
References and links
J. B. Pendry, D. Schurig, and D. R. Smith, “Controlling electromagnetic fields,” Science 312, 1780-1782
U. Leonhardt, “Optical conformal mapping,” Science 312, 1777-1780 (2006).
U. Leonhardt and T.G. Philbin, Geometry and Light: The Science of Invisibility (Dover, Mineola, 2010).
C. M. Soukoulis and M. Wegener, “Past achievements and future challenges in the development of three-
dimensional photonic metamaterials,” Nature Photon. 5, 523-530 (2011).
H. Hashemi, B. Zhang, J. D. Joannopoulos, and S. G. Johnson, “Delay-Bandwidth and Delay-Loss
Limitations for Cloaking of Large Objects,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 104, 253903 (2010).
H. Chena and B. Zheng, “Broadband polygonal invisibility cloak for visible light,” Sci. Rep. 2, 255
D. Schurig. J. B. Pendry, and D. R. Smith, “Calculation of material properties and ray tracing in
transformation media,” Opt. Express 14, 9794-9804 (2006).
A. Akbarzadeh and A. J. Danner, “Generalization of ray tracing in a linear inhomogeneous anisotropic
medium: a coordinate-free approach,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 27, 2558-2562 (2010).
D. Schurig, J. J. Mock, B. J. Justice, S. A. Cummer, J. B. Pendry, A. F. Starr, and D. R. Smith,
“Metamaterial electromagnetic cloak at microwave frequencies,” Science 314, 977-980 (2006).
10. J. C. Halimeh and M. Wegener, “Time-of-flight imaging of invisibility cloaks,” Opt. Express 20, 63-74
11. L. D. Landau, E. M. Lifshitz, and L. P. Pitaevskii, Electrodynamics of Continuous Media, Vol. 8
(Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 1984).
12. R. Schmied, J. C. Halimeh, and M. Wegener, “Conformal carpet and grating cloaks,” Opt. Express 18,
13. J. C. Halimeh, R. Schmied, and M. Wegener, “Newtonian photorealistic ray tracing of grating cloaks and
correlation-function-based cloaking-quality assessment,” Opt. Express 19, 6078-6092 (2011).
14. M. Born and E. Wolf, Principles of Optics, 7. Ed. (University Press, Cambridge, 1999).
15. B. E. A. Saleh and M. C. Teich, Fundamentals of Photonics (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1999).
16. M. Sluijter, D. K. G. de Boer, and J. J. M. Braat, “General polarized ray-tracing method for
inhomogeneous uniaxially anisotropic media,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 25, 1260-1273 (2008).
17. A. Weidlich and A. Wilkie, “Realistic rendering of birefringency in uniaxial crystals,” ACM Transactions
on Graphics 27 (10), 6:1-12 (2008).
18. W. Cai, U. K. Chettiar, A. V. Kildishev, and V. M. Shalaev, “Optical cloaking with metamaterials,”
Nature Photon. 1, 224-227 (2007).
19. T. Ergin, J. Fischer, and M. Wegener, “Optical phase cloaking of 700-nm light waves in the far field by a
three-dimensional carpet cloak,” Phys. Rev. Lett 107, 173901 (2011).
20. S. Hrabar, I. Krois, and A. Kiricenko, “Towards active dispersionless ENZ metamaterial for cloaking
applications,” Metamaterials 4, 89–97 (2010).
21. S. Hrabar, I. Krois, I. Bonic, and A. Kiricenko, “Negative capacitor paves the way to ultra-broadband
metamaterials,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 99, 254103 (2011).
Transformation optics maps the geometry of a fictitious space onto actual material properties
in the laboratory [1-3]. Invisibility cloaking continues to be a fascinating benchmark example
to test these ideas. Generally, spatially inhomogeneous and anisotropic magneto-dielectric
material distributions result. Equal magnetic and dielectric responses are required at the same
time to have (i) anisotropic light propagation yet no polarization dependence of the optical
response and (ii) no reflections from interfaces via matching of the relative optical impedance,
which is given by the square root of the ratio of the magnetic permeability ! and the electric
permittivity !. Obtaining an effective magnetic response at optical frequencies has become
possible via three-dimensional metamaterials , but is necessarily connected with
resonances. Hence, for passive structures, dispersion and finite losses via causality and the
Kramers-Kronig relations are unavoidable and often unacceptable, especially in the context of
macroscopic cloaking .
Recent experiments  on macroscopic broadband visible-frequency free-space
invisibility cloaks made of standard uniaxial calcite have used purely dielectric anisotropic
materials (calcite), i.e., the magnetic permeability is set to unity everywhere. This means that
the response becomes polarization dependent and not impedance-matched.
It is clear that completely neglecting the magnetic response and using uniaxial instead of
biaxial materials are rather drastic ad hoc approximations. Apart from severely easing the
experimental realization, these approximations are motivated by the fact that the behavior
remains ideal for propagation of light in a two-dimensional plane and for linear polarization of
light lying in that same plane. In this paper, we visualize the aberrations that occur as a result
of these approximations for both polarizations of light and for more general viewing
conditions in three dimensions by ray tracing. Early work on ray tracing in transformation
media has been published in Refs.  and . We investigate the paradigmatic free-space
cylindrical invisibility cloak  with a continuously varying material distribution of a uniaxial
electric permittivity tensor and unity magnetic permeability as an example. This example
enables direct comparison with our previous work  on corresponding ideal impedance-
matched magneto-dielectric cylindrical cloaks. In Sect. 2, we again use ray equations of
motion for the ordinary and the extraordinary rays derived directly from Fermat’s principle
At the interfaces of the structure, double refraction occurs. While the mathematical
treatment may be seen as “straightforward”, we do summarize the general formulas in Sect. 3
in compact form. In the literature, usually only special cases are explicitly discussed [14-17].
Sect. 4 presents rendered images on the basis of Sect. 2 and 3. In Sect. 5 we explain the reason
behind the significant difference in cloaking performance between the two variants of the
uniaxial dielectric cylindrical cloak.
2. Ray equation of motion in non-magnetic locally uniaxial material distributions
In the geometrical optics of birefringent uniaxial dielectric materials, one has to distinguish
between the paths of the ordinary and the extraordinary rays . What polarization of light is
ordinary and what is extraordinary will generally change at the interface between two
different birefringent materials. However, if the change of the anisotropy axis ! is continuous
in space, the ordinary ray stays ordinary and the extraordinary ray stays extraordinary
throughout even though the ! axis changes. Only two different rays emerge from the overall
structure (apart from further reflected contributions). We will restrict ourselves to this
conceptually transparent case. Only at the interfaces of air/vacuum to the continuously
changing medium, caution has to be exerted. The corresponding discussion will be given in
the next section.
Inside of the structure, we can choose the local Cartesian coordinate system such that,
e.g., the local z-axis coincides with the local ! axis. In this basis, the local dielectric tensor
Here we have suppressed the dependence on ! for better readability and we will continue
doing so throughout this section. As usual, the index “o” stands for ordinary and “e” for
extraordinary here and below. In addition, we assume no magnetic response at all, i.e., we
have the magnetic-permeability tensor ! = 1. The ordinary and extraordinary refractive
indices are then given by !!=!! and !!=
Let us start by discussing the propagation of the ordinary ray, for which the polarization
of light, i.e., the orientation of electric-field vector !!, is perpendicular to the local ! axis
everywhere in the cloak. As a result, this ordinary ray merely experiences a simple refractive-
index distribution equivalent to a ray in a locally isotropic yet spatially inhomogeneous
medium (= “graded-index” structure). In Eq. (11) in Ref.  we have derived the
corresponding ray equation of motion for the ordinary-ray velocity or energy velocity !! as
!!! ∇!!!! ∇!!∙ !! !!
It should be emphasized, however, that the ordinary rays do not lead to cloaking for the
cylindrical cloak to be discussed in Sect. 4.
Thus, the orthogonally polarized extraordinary rays are more important under our
conditions. Their ray equation of motion is more involved though. We can closely follow the
spirit of the derivation in Sect. 3 of Ref. , but we need to replace the expression
!!= !!! !!= !!! !! (with vacuum permeability µμ!) there by an appropriate expression to
again arrive at a compact form like Eq. (7) in Ref. . Under the present conditions, the
extraordinary magnetic field vector !! is perpendicular to the local ! axis everywhere in the
cloak. Thus, its direction is invariant under multiplication with ! (and, therefore, also ! !!),
just like the ordinary displacement vector !!, which is also perpendicular to !. With Eq. (1),
this allows us to write
! !!!!= !!
Inserting Eq. (3) into the extraordinary ray velocity !! (see Eq. (4) in Ref. ) gives
with vacuum permittivity !! (≠ !!), and the electromagnetic energy density !!. Using the
mathematical identity 
! !! !! × ! !! !!
! ! × ! ! = ! !!!!×! , (5)
where … denotes the matrix determinant, we can connect the extraordinary ray velocity to
the extraordinary wave vector of light !! via
!!!! ! !!! !! , (6)
with the angular frequency of light ! and the dimensionless auxiliary matrix
! ! ! !!= !!
! ! !!. (7)
In the last step in Eq. (7) we have inserted the determinant ! = !!
all quantities in Eq. (7) are generally still dependent on the coordinate vector !. Inserting Eq.
(6) and Eq. (7) into Fermat’s principle  and working out the Euler-Lagrange equations
 leads us to the final extraordinary ray equation of motion (see Eq. (11) in Ref. ) in
compact form analogous to Newton’s second law 
! (see Eq. (1)). Note that
! !!! ! !!− 2! ! ∙ !! !! . (8)
Obviously, this ray equation of motion is of the same form as that derived for impedance-
matched anisotropic magneto-dielectrics Eq. (11) in Ref. , but the auxiliary matrix ! for
non-magnetic uniaxial dielectrics in Eq. (7) is generally different from Eq. (8) in Ref. .
3. Interface of the structure to air/vacuum
Arbitrarily polarized incident light impinging from the outside of the cloak (i.e., from vacuum
or air) will be double refracted at the cloak’s interface into an ordinary and an extraordinary
ray, which will then propagate inside the cloak. Thus, we first need to determine the
amplitudes and directions of these two rays before being able to apply the results of the
In the following, the general case is considered where the optic axis ! is not necessarily in
the plane of incidence, which is the case in the azimuthal uniaxial cloak discussed in the next
section. Two planes are defined: the ordinary main section, formed by the optic axis and the
ordinary refracted wave vector, and the extraordinary main section, formed by the optic axis
and the extraordinary refracted wave vector. The ordinary wave has its polarization vector
orthogonal to the ordinary main section, while the extraordinary wave has its polarization
vector in the extraordinary main section. The ordinary wave thus sees a refractive index equal
to !! whereas the refractive index ! that the extraordinary wave sees is given by 
! !! =
where !! is the angle the extraordinary polarization vector includes with the unit optic axis !.
If !! is the angle of refraction of the extraordinary wave, one determines that
!!= arcsin! ∙ ! sin(!!) − ! ∙ ! cos(!!) , (10)
where ! is the unit normal vector and ! is the unit tangential vector in the plane of incidence
(one can see that in the case of the radial uniaxial dielectric cloak, where the optic axis is
parallel to the unit normal, we have, e.g., !!= !/2 − !!). As such, ! = !(!!) can now be
expressed as a function of !!, which enters into the equation of phase matching
!!sin !! = !!sin !! = ! !! sin (!!), (11)
where !!=1 is the refractive index of air/vacuum, !! is the angle of incidence, and !! is the
angle of ordinary refraction. From Eq. (11), it is straightforward to calculate !!. To determine
!!, one must solve the implicit Eq. (11) from which two solutions emerge, with only one of
them acceptable being in [0,!/2]. As such, the directions of the refracted waves are
determined. The amplitudes of the wave vectors are proportional to their respective refractive
indices due to the condition of phase matching, and therefore the ordinary wave vector will
carry a magnitude !!= !!!/!! (with the vacuum speed of light !!) and that of the
extraordinary wave a magnitude of !!= ! !!!/!!.
Note that the above procedure allows determining the directions of all fields since the
directions of the wave vectors are now known and so are the geometric conditions for their
fields. For example, taking into account the extraordinary wave, it is known that its
polarization !! must lie in the extraordinary main section. Moreover, a consequence of
Maxwell’s equations is that !! is perpendicular to !!, which exactly determines its direction
within that plane. Moreover, another consequence of Maxwell's equations is that !!⊥ !!,
and, as the medium is non-magnetic, this means that !!⊥ !!. Since !! is also perpendicular
to !! due to Maxwell’s equations, !! is then perpendicular to the extraordinary main section,
thus exactly determining its direction. With the directions of all fields determined, the
boundary conditions of continuity  then allow us to determine their exact magnitudes. The
ray-velocity vector can then be determined as per Eq. (4) or Eq. (6). The intensity
transmission coefficients !! and !! for the ordinary and extraordinary refracted rays,
respectively, are given by 
! ∙ (!! × !!)
! ∙ (!! × !!) and !!=
! ∙ (!! × !!)
! ∙ (!! × !!) , (12)
where the index “i” stands for the incident quantity.
Although mathematically similar, it is worth briefly mentioning that in the case of an
interface from a uniaxial dielectric crystal to air/vacuum, there will in general be double
reflections within the crystal, into an ordinary reflected wave and an extraordinary reflected
wave, irrespective of whether the incident wave is itself ordinary or extraordinary. The
directions and amplitudes of all relevant fields are determined just as in the case of the
air/vacuum-cloak interface, except here there are two reflections (in cloak) and one refraction
(into air), instead of one reflection (in air) and two refractions (in cloak) at the interface.
Moreover, here it is the reflected wave vectors (ordinary and extraordinary) that, along with
the optic axis, define the main sections.
The intensity reflection coefficients are unity minus the transmission coefficient.
4. Numerical results
In cylindrical coordinates, the ideal magneto-dielectric parameters for the cylindrical cloak 
with inner radius ! and outer radius ! are given by 
! ; !!= !!=
!!! ; !!= !!=
! . (13)
(Unfortunately, Eq. (12) in Ref.  contained a typo.) As discussed in the introduction, we
wish to eliminate the magnetic response, i.e., we want to use the reduced magnetic parameters
least for light propagating in the !"-plane with an electric-field vector lying in that plane
(hence a magnetic-field vector along !). To achieve this goal, the refractive-index distribution
for the reduced parameters has to be the same as for the ideal parameters Eq. (2), i.e., the
conditions !!!!= !!
been followed in Ref. . Otherwise, the propagation time of light would be different with
and without cloak (compare Ref. ) and the structure may be a ray cloak but just cannot be
a wave cloak . For example, the 3D free-space structure realized in Ref.  is a ray cloak
but not a wave cloak, while the 3D carpet cloak in Ref.  has been shown to work for light
waves and rays. For light propagating in the !"-plane with polarization in that plane, the
two non-equivalent choices.
We can choose the axial component to be identical to the azimuthal component. With Eq.
(13), this leads us to the reduced dielectric parameters
!= 1. At the same time, we want to keep the cloaking performance exact – at
! and !!!!= !!
! need to be fulfilled. The same spirit has previously
! component does not enter at all. Thus, it is not yet determined. This leaves us with
We shall call the cloak according to Eq. (14) the radial uniaxial cloak as its optic axis is
obviously along the radial direction. The other choice is the azimuthal uniaxial cloak, for
which we get
To allow for direct comparison with our previous results on the ideal cylindrical cloak
, we use the exact same scenery (see Fig. 3 in Ref. ) and the identical parameters as in
Ref. , i.e., ! = 5 cm and ! = 10 cm. Rendered ray-tracing images as well as time-of-
flight (TOF) difference images for the ideal cylindrical cloak have been shown in Fig. 4 in
In the numerical implementation, we account for first-order reflections but omit multiple-
order reflections. This is justified because even the first-order reflected components (except
for those from the inner metal cylinder) turn out to be barely visible in the rendered images.
We start with unpolarized light rays emitted from the sources. Sect. 3 has given closed
exact expressions for treating double refraction at the entrance interface from air/vacuum with
! = ! = 1 to the cloak. We then solve Eq. (2) for the ordinary ray and Eq. (8) for the
extraordinary ray inside of the cloak numerically using a standard fourth-order Runge-Kutta
approach. Regarding reflection of light at the inner metal cylinder inside of the cloak, one
must generally be careful because of possible bi-reflections within birefringent media .
However, for the radial uniaxial cloak with Eq. (14), the local ! axis (i.e., the radial direction)
coincides with the metal surface normal and, thus, we get only a single reflected ray, the
reflection angle of which simply equals the incidence angle for the ordinary as well as for the
extraordinary ray. For the case of the radial uniaxial cloak below, all ordinary rays reach the
inner metal cylinder while no extraordinary rays do. For the azimuthal uniaxial cloak, the rays
turn out to never reach the inner metal cylinder for our conditions. Finally, refraction at the
exit interface towards air/vacuum is again treated analytically according to Sect. 3.
For the radial uniaxial cloak according to Eq. (14), the ordinary refractive index is
constant within the cloak (!!= 2 for the chosen parameters). Thus, the right-hand side of Eq.
(2) is zero everywhere inside of the cloak. This means that ordinary rays propagate along
straight lines within the cloak. The ordinary rays are, however, refracted at the cloak
interfaces like for an ordinary cylindrical lens. The right-hand side of Eq. (2) is nonzero for
the azimuthal uniaxial cloak according to Eq. (15), i.e., ordinary rays are curved within the
Let us mention in passing that we have also modified and programmed the Hamiltonian
ray tracing as in Ref.  for the present conditions. Situations for which perfect cloaking is
expected have been used as test examples. To obtain the same relative accuracy of, e.g., 10!!
with the Runge-Kutta method, the Hamiltonian approach needed more than one order of
magnitude longer computation times than ours.
Rendered images for the non-magnetic, radial uniaxial dielectric, cylindrical cloak
according to Eq. (14) are depicted in Fig. 1. Panel (a) shows the reference image without
cylinder, (b) with metal cylinder of radius a, and (c) with metal cylinder and with cloak
around it – all for unpolarized light. Clearly, (c) is the admixture of two rather different
images for the two orthogonal linear polarizations. In panel (d), the virtual observer wears
polarization goggles transmitting only vertical polarization and only horizontal polarization in
(e). Note, however, that the polarization basis of the goggles is generally different from the
polarization basis of an incoming ray. Hence, both panels (d) and (e) are admixtures of
ordinary and extraordinary rays emerging from the cloak.
For a normal observer, it is fair to say that the device simply does not work as an
invisibility cloak (see Fig. 1(c)). In contrast, for selecting only vertical linear polarization in
the image, the amplitude image in Fig. 1(d) exhibits quite reasonable cloaking in the center of
the image and along the vertical direction. The cloaking performance deteriorates when
departing from these cases, e.g., by rotating the observation axis around the center of the
image, where we observe an adverse rotational effect on the cloaking quality. Recall that the
horizontal field-of-view (FOV) in Fig. 1 is 50° (see Fig. 3 in Ref. ), emulating a human
focal FOV. For horizontal polarization, the “cloak” exactly acts like an isotropic dielectric
around a reflective metal cylinder and, hence, represents a bad cylindrical lens with a curved
reflector inside (see Fig. 1(e)). As to be expected from the design, “cloaking” is so bad for
horizontal polarization that it deserves no further discussion.
Due to the design of the cloak described above, the time-of-flight (TOF) images  for
vertical analyzer orientation, in the center of the image and along the vertical direction, and
for the case of cloak and cylinder are expected to be perfectly identical to the case of no
cylinder (not depicted).
The cloaking performance of the radial uniaxial dielectric cloak according to Eq. (14) is
very good in the center of the image along the vertical direction in Fig. 1(d). However, as
soon as one rotates the observation axis, huge distortions occur. Thus, the overall performance
of this cloak, the design of which closely follows Ref. , is quite disappointing in three
dimensions and even in two dimensions away from the center vertical plane.
Fig. 2 shows the same scenario and the same cases as in Fig. 1, but for the azimuthal
uniaxial dielectric cloak according to Eq. (15). To the best of our knowledge, this design has
not been discussed before. Again, as expected by the design, horizontal orientation of the
polarization goggles in Fig. 2(e) is so bad that it deserves no further discussion. In sharp
contrast, the performance is rather good for vertical polarization in Fig. 2(d). This is expected
from the cloak design as described above for the middle of the image along the vertical
direction. The good performance is much less obvious for other viewing directions and could
only be revealed by our rendering. An intuitive explanation as to why the azimuthal uniaxial
cloak performs so much better than the radial one will be given in the next section.
In a hypothetical TOF experiment  using a short pulse incident onto the scenery, one
would, however, observe satellites in addition to the main transmitted pulse, by which the
cloak could likely be revealed.
Fig. 1. Photorealistic images for the non-magnetic radial uniaxial dielectric cloak
according to Eq. (14) rendered by ray tracing using Eq. (2) and Eq. (8). The scenery and
the input raw images are defined in Fig. 3 in Ref. . (a) Reference image without metal
cylinder, (b) with metal cylinder in front of the model’s head but without cloak, (c) with
metal cylinder and with radial uniaxial dielectric cloak and for unpolarized light, (d) as (c)
but for vertical orientation of the linear polarizer in front of the virtual camera, and (e) as
(c) but for horizontal polarization.
Fig. 2. As Fig. 1, but for the non-magnetic azimuthal uniaxial dielectric cloak according to
Eq. (15) rather than the radial uniaxial cloak according to Eq. (14). Comparison of panels
(d) of Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 shows a far superior performance of the azimuthal uniaxial
dielectric cloak compared to the radial uniaxial dielectric cloak. In panels (d), the linear
polarizer in front of the virtual camera is vertically orientated. This different cloaking
performance is explained in Sect. 5 and illustrated in Fig. 3.
5. Intuitive explanation
The rendered images of the preceding section have shown that the azimuthal uniaxial purely
dielectric cloak performs much better than its radial counterpart. Here, we aim at providing an
intuitive explanation for this difference.
In Fig. 3, we consider for each of the two cloaks two incident wave vectors, namely !! in
the vertical plane and !! in the horizontal plane, both of which can be assumed to emanate
from, e.g., the viewing camera, and examine what happens only to their extraordinary
refracted wave vectors !!
refracted extraordinary wave vector must lie in the extraordinary main section, we see that for
both cloaks the extraordinary polarization vector !!
incident wave vector is along !!, and thus the cloaking should be perfect in this case since the
cloaks are designed to cloak perfectly for light rays that, along with their polarization vectors,
lie parallel to the vertical plane.
However, if the incident wave vector is parallel to !!, the situation is drastically different.
In the case of the radial uniaxial cloak, where the optic axis is parallel to the surface normal,
we see that the extraordinary main section is identical to the horizontal plane itself in this
case, which is also the plane of incidence. This means that the extraordinary polarization
significantly deteriorated in this case. One can envisage that, as the observation axis is rotated
around the center of the image, incident rays onto the cloak will partially refract into
extraordinary rays that will behave in a manner that is in between these two extremes. This
leads to what we term the rotational effect present in the cloaking behavior of the radial
uniaxial cloak. In contrast, in the case of the azimuthal uniaxial cloak, the rotational effect is
completely absent. Here, !!
perpendicular to the horizontal plane leading the extraordinary main section to be
perpendicular to the plane of incidence (horizontal plane). As such, !! will experience a
refractive-index distribution which is much more favorable for cloaking. The only reason the
cloaking is imperfect here (albeit still considerably better than in the case of the radial uniaxial
cloak) is due to the fact that !! itself is not parallel to the vertical plane.
! and !!
!, respectively. Noting that the polarization vector of the
! is indeed in the vertical plane when the
! lies completely in the horizontal plane, and thus the cloaking is expected to be
! will be parallel to the vertical plane since the optic axis here is
We have derived Newton’s-law-like ray equations of motion for non-magnetic continuously
varying anisotropic locally uniaxial dielectric material distributions directly from Fermat’s
principle. This complements our previous corresponding work on graded-index locally
isotropic dielectrics  and on locally anisotropic impedance-matched magneto-dielectric
material distributions  – both of which show no birefringence.
We have used this approach to render photorealistic images of cylindrical free-space
invisibility cloaks made of locally anisotropic non-magnetic dielectrics, using home-built,
dedicated ray-tracing software. Two cases have been discussed: the radial and the azimuthal
uniaxial cloaks. The radial uniaxial cloak performs rather badly overall – even for its design
In sharp contrast, the purely dielectric azimuthal uniaxial cloak, which has not been
suggested previously, exhibits surprisingly good cloaking in three dimensions for one linear
polarization of light. In particular, the performance goes well beyond that of recent impressive
experiments  in that it leads to the correct time-of-flight (“wave cloak”), at least in the
center of the image, whereas the piece-wise homogeneous calcite polygonal structure in Ref.
 is expected to exhibit huge time-of-flight differences compared to empty space and is
hence only a “ray cloak”. Moreover, in contrast to Ref. , our cloak and the resulting
performance are rotationally invariant, i.e., the performance does not depend on the viewing
direction. The price to pay in our case is that two components of the local permittivity tensor
assume positive values below one, i.e., we need superluminal light propagation.
It is often believed that such values of the permittivity tensor components 0 ≤ !!"≤ 1 are
only possible in a narrow frequency interval (e.g., at frequencies above the resonance
frequency of a pronounced resonance) and that causality demands that they are accompanied
by serious losses. Both aspects have to be treated with extreme caution. Recent experiments
on metamaterials composed of active non-Foster elements operating at MHz and GHz
frequencies [20,21] have shown rather constant superluminal electromagnetic phase and group
velocities from 2 MHz to 40 MHz frequency  (more than four octaves bandwidth). The
frequency dependence occurring at yet higher frequencies guarantees the fundamental
consistency with causality and with the laws of special relativity [20,21].
Fig. 3. Illustration explaining the different cloaking behavior found in Fig. 1 and Fig. 2.
(a) Radial uniaxial cylindrical cloak and (b) azimuthal uniaxial cylindrical cloak.
Extraordinary light in the vertical plane carries an extraordinary polarization vector that is
parallel to the vertical plane in both cases, thus providing perfect cloaking as expected.
However, for extraordinary light in the horizontal plane, the extraordinary polarization
vector lies in the horizontal plane in the case of the radial uniaxial cloak, leading to bad
cloaking quality. In contrast, for the case of the azimuthal uniaxial cloak, the extraordinary
polarization is still parallel to the vertical plane, which generally leads to good cloaking
We thank our model, Tanja Rosentreter, and the photographer, Vincent Sprenger (TU
München), for help with the photographs used as input for the photorealistic ray-tracing
calculations. We are grateful to Maximilian Papp for his artistic help with Fig. 3 and the
layout of all Figures. J.C.H. thanks Michael Kay (LMU München) for fruitful discussions. We
acknowledge the support of the Arnold Sommerfeld Center (LMU München), which allowed
us to use their computer facilities for our rather CPU-time-consuming numerical ray-tracing
calculations. J.C.H. acknowledges financial
Forschingsgemeinschaft (DFG) through FOR801 and by the Excellence Cluster
“Nanosystems Inititiative Munich (NIM)”. M.W. acknowledges support by the DFG, the State
of Baden-Württemberg, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) through the DFG
Center for Functional Nanostructures (CFN) within subproject A1.5.
support from the Deutsche