A Chinese-born Physics Department Chairman from Temple University in Pennsylvania will remain on staff despite being accused of stealing technology in an effort to aid China in becoming a world leader in the manipulation of magnetic fields.
Federal prosecutors charged naturalized US citizen Xioaxing Xi with wire fraud for his role in selling and sharing a technological device that had been purchased with Defense Department grant money to China.
According to the six-page indictment, the scheme concocted by Xioaxing took place over a number of years. The professor is considered to be a world-renowned expert when it comes to magnesium diboride thin film and superconducting technology. Concepts in the field are used to improve the performance and efficiency of machinery.
The professor gained access to the device through an unnamed US company. In order to do so, he made use of funding given to him by the Defense Department’s Defense University Research Instrumentation Program, writes Maggie Ybarra for The Washington Times.
While the company originally denied his request for the device, they eventually allowed him access to it for a year in 2006. By 2010, some of that technology had been sent to China by the professor.
“Defendant Xiaoxing Xi repeatedly reproduced, sold, transferred, distributed and otherwise shared the Device and the technology of the Device with and exploited it for the benefit of third parties in China, including government entities and attempted to do so, both personally and through the assistance of his post-doctoral students from China, in an effort to help Chinese entities become world leaders in the field of superconductivity,” court documents said.
After the technology had been mailed to China, Xioaxing then offered to build the country a science laboratory, according to an uncovered email exchange.
If he is found guilty, Xioaxing could face up to 80 years in prison and fines totaling as much as $1 million.
Hillel J. Hoffmann, director of national communications for Temple, said the professor’s status with the school has not been changed, although he did say the school is aware of the charges. Another spokesman for the school added that another chair has been appointed to the Physics Department in order to allow Xioaxing to focus on the matter at hand, reports Frank Burgos for The Philly Voice.
Prior to joining the staff at Temple University in 2009, Xioaxing was a professor of physics and materials science and engineering at Penn State University. He received his doctorate degrees in physics from Peking University and the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Science in 1987.
Meanwhile, federal prosecutors have also accused six Chinese citizens of economic espionage and theft of trade secrets for their efforts to give China’s Tianjin University secrets pertaining to US technologies.