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Cupric oxide is multiferroic at unusual high temperatures. From density functional calculations we find that the low-T magnetic phase is paraelectric and the higher-T one ferroelectric, with a size and direction of polarization in good agreement with experiment. By mapping of the ab initio results on an effective spin model we find with Monte Carlo that in the high-T magnetic state non-collinearity and inversion symmetry breaking stabilize each other via the Dzyaloshinskii Moriya interaction.doi:10.1103/physrevlett.106.026401 pmid:21405242 fatcat:q2saloijl5cutadbd5ibrmsfjy