Temple University Physics Professor Outed As Chinese Spy, Allegedly Sold Sensitive U.S. Defense Technology

by 4 years ago

Allegedly, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, the chair of Temple University’s physics department has been covertly infiltrating an unnamed U.S. defense firm, and selling informational trade secrets back to his homeland in China.

Dr. Xiaoxing Xi, a world-renowned expert in the field of superconductivity (huh?), was charged by the U.S. DoJ last Thursday, and I’m beginning to think that maybe that Senator Joseph McCarthy might’ve been on to something…

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports on Xi’s alarming, seemingly well-orchestrated security breach at the expense of U.S. Defense Department subsidies:

A Temple University physics professor allegedly sold sensitive U.S. defense technology to his native China after spending several years working to deceive an American company and the Department of Defense so they would grant him access to a custom-designed device that improves the transmission of electricity.

Xi, 47, a world-renowned expert in the superconductivity field, took a sabbatical during the 2002-03 school year to work for an unidentified American company in the field of thin film superconductivity research, according to the indictment. At that time, he was a Penn State University professor. He joined Temple in 2009.

During the sabbatical, the firm invented a device, “which revolutionized the field of superconducting magnesium diboride thin film growth,” the indictment said. Superconductors conduct electricity with zero resistance, which improves the efficiency of certain technology.

Xi then allegedly spent the next 10 years trying to obtain the company’s technology for Chinese associates in exchange for prestigious positions there.

Man, that’s sounds so diabolically devious it metaphorically hurts. Pinky and The Brain-esque, actually. The worst part is, he could’ve fooled anybody, because he looks like the furthest thing from a spy I’ve ever seen! Dorky, if we’re being realistic and honest here – no offense to Xi’s intellect.


Temple University Dept. of Physics

Whatever technology Xi apparently stole here must be pretty damn special, because ten years in the making is a super long time trying to steal something. Dude must really care about the transmission of electricity; pretty Nic Tesla of him. Or maybe it was just about padding the bank account and landing a prestigious appointment at a Chinese university, which would be like the complete opposite, but either way.

The professor applied for a Defense Department grant, which financed his purchase of the technology and other equipment, according to the DOJ.

The unnamed firm initially resisted Xi’s efforts to buy the device, citing intellectual property concerns, the DOJ said. But they relented in early 2006, agreeing to provide the defendant the device for a year under the conditions that he not “‘reproduce, sell, transfer or otherwise distribute'” the technology or attempt to break down the device in any way, the indictment said.

Aided by several Chinese postdoctoral students, Xi disregarded the terms of the agreement and provided the technology to third parties in China, including the government, in hopes that the foreign country would become a world leader in the superconductivity field, the DOJ said.

So let me get this straight. Dr. Xi basically secured some U.S. government dime, developed a technology and sold it to a U.S. defense firm with the promise to be exclusive, and then turned around and sold it to companies in China!?

Complete scoundrel of a move! You can’t even defend him on any grounds. Like, dude, you’re already a department chair at a great university, touting a PhD, and probably rolling in plenty of dough because you’re clearly a genius! Why’d you have to go ahead on do this? Somewhere, Uncle Sam is shedding a tear for what could have been…if you didn’t decide to add “Chinese Spy” to your C/V.

An updated statement from the university was issued late Friday morning: “In light of Dr. Xi’s needs to focus on the matter at hand, an acting chair has been appointed to the Physics Department. Dr. Xi remains a member of the faculty.”

It is unclear if Xi has retained an attorney.

Yeah, well you better get one, pal. The U.S. Department of Justice doesn’t seem like the people to treat traitors lightly.

[h/t Philadelphia Business Journal]

TAGSphysicstemple university