The chair of Temple University’s Physics Department tried to sell revolutionary superconductor technology developed in the U.S. to Chinese government entities, federal prosecutors say.
Xioaxing Xi, 47, a world renowned expert in “magnesium diboride thin film superconducting technology” worked with a U.S. company that developed a breakthrough device in the field.
In 2004, he tried to buy one of the devices from the company,. The Department of Defense gave Xi a grant to finance the purchase to help further research for defense purposes.
For two years the company, which is only identified as US Company in court documents, rejected Xi’s offer to purchase it because of intellectual property concerns.
But in 2006, the company agreed to lend him the device for testing purposes for one year on the condition that Xi not try to reverse engineer it, nor try to sell it or transfer it to anyone else.
Federal investigators say Xi broke that agreement. They say they uncovered emails confirming delivery of equipment to a lab, and three emails to associated in China offering to build a world class lab.
The professor sough lucrative jobs in China in exchange for helping the country become “world leaders of the superconductivity field,” according to prosecutors.
Superconductors allow energy to travel with zero resistance. Because of the relationship between electricity and magnetism, the technology is behind Maglev trains. But it can also be used in medical imaging and other fields.
Xi’s research interests were in using applying superconductors and super-thin materials.
Several Temple University web pages associated with Xi, including his faculty bio, were taken down Thursday night. Some were available through the Wayback Machine.
An indictment in the case was unsealed on Thursday. Xi is charged with wire fraud and related offenses. He is not charged with selling classified technology.