Water is characterized by large molecular electric dipole moments and strong interactions between molecules; however, hydrogen bonds screen the dipole-dipole coupling and suppress the ferroelectric order. The situation changes drastically when water is confined: in this case ordering of the molecular dipoles has been predicted, but never unambiguously detected experimentally. In the present study we place separate H 2 O molecules in the structural channels of a beryl single crystal so that they are located far enough to prevent hydrogen bonding, but close enough to keep the dipole-dipole interaction, resulting in incipient ferroelectricity in the water molecular subsystem. We observe a ferroelectric soft mode that causes Curie-Weiss behaviour of the static permittivity, which saturates below 10 K due to quantum fluctuations. The ferroelectricity of water molecules may play a key role in the functioning of biological systems and find applications in fuel and memory cells, light emitters and other nanoscale electronic devices.
Despite a rich choice of two-dimensional materials, which exists these days, heterostructures, both vertical (van der Waals) and in-plane, offer an unprecedented control over the properties and functionalities of the resulted structures. Thus, planar heterostructures allow p-n junctions between different two-dimensional semiconductors and graphene nanoribbons with well-defined edges; and vertical heterostructures resulted in the observation of superconductivity in purely carbon-based systems and realisation of vertical tunnelling transistors. Here we demonstrate simultaneous use of in-plane and van der Waals heterostructures to build vertical single electron tunnelling transistors. We grow graphene quantum dots inside the matrix of hexagonal boron nitride, which allows a dramatic reduction of the number of localised states along the perimeter of the quantum dots. The use of hexagonal boron nitride tunnel barriers as contacts to the graphene quantum dots make our transistors reproducible and not dependent on the localised states, opening even larger flexibility when designing future devices.
Rapid information processing in the human brain is vital to survival in a highly dynamic environment. The key tool humans use to exchange information is spoken language, but the exact speed of the neuronal mechanisms underpinning speech comprehension is still unknown. Here we investigate the time course of neuro-lexical processing by analyzing neuromagnetic brain activity elicited in response to psycholinguistically and acoustically matched groups of words and pseudowords. We show an ultra-early dissociation in cortical activation elicited by these stimulus types, emerging ∼50 ms after acoustic information required for word identification first becomes available. This dissociation is the earliest brain signature of lexical processing of words so far reported, and may help explain the evolutionary advantage of human spoken language.