Revealed: Chinese weapons scientist has been at the center of Cambridge University’s pivotal research into new battlefield material
- Dr. Junzong Feng, 398, is a visiting fellow in Cambridge working on graphene
- The material is 200 times stronger than steel, but more stretchable than rubber
- Graphene, which has enormous military potential, also conducts electricity
- Dr. Feng was photographed in a Chinese PLA army uniform in 2016
A Chinese military scientist and a team from Cambridge University have been researching a revolutionary substance discovered in Britain.
Dr. Junzong Feng, 38, worked as a visiting fellow at Cambridge’s NanoEngineering Group on graphene, a material 200 times stronger than steel, more stretchy than rubber, and conductive of electricity better than copper.
Experts believe it can provide a huge advantage on the battlefield. It was first mined from graphite by a team from the University of Manchester in 2004.
Dr. Junzong Feng, 38, works as a visiting fellow at Cambridge’s NanoEngineering Group on graphene. In 2016, Dr. Feng was photographed in his People Liberation Army uniform when he joined the National University of Defense Technology at the age of 18
Graphene, a material 200 times stronger than steel, more stretchable than rubber and conducting electricity better than copper
Dr. Feng is casually dressed in a blue open-neck shirt for a photo used on NanoEngineering’s website, but he proudly wore his Chinese People’s Liberation Army uniform for a photo taken in 2016 after winning first prize in a defense technology competition in his home country.
The scientist, who joined the PLA’s National University of Defense Technology at the age of 18 and was praised in China for his groundbreaking weapons research, was named as a co-author of academic papers on work that was only carried out in February by the NanoEngineering Group. .
The photo of the academic in his uniform was discovered on a deleted Chinese internet page by Sinopsis, a Czech-based think tank. An accompanying testimony gives Dr. Feng honors ’17 National Invention (Defense) Patents’ and lists his awards for weapons development.
The revelation about Dr. Feng at the Cambridge Graphene Center will raise concerns within the security forces about the involvement of Chinese scientists in sensitive areas of British research.
While there is no suggestion of any inappropriateness by Dr. Feng, his affiliation with the Chinese military comes as specialists in the State Department, Special Branch and HMRC compile a list of academics suspected of having sensitive information, including groundbreaking British technology, to pass on to Beijing.
Matthew Henderson, a former Foreign Affairs diplomat based in China, said: ‘Over the decades, pioneering dual-use research in the UK has routinely involved Chinese scientists, but does this level of involvement really serve British interests? Work on new materials and technologies that are known or likely to have defense and security applications must be carried out safely or else it will continue to fall prey to systemic competitors. ‘
Dr. Feng of Cambridge University describes him as an expert in ‘aerogels’, the world’s lightest solid, and says he has studied ‘inkjet printing aerogels for high performance light absorbing layers’. However, patents and research papers published in China show that he has been working on how aerogels could be used by the military.
Luke McWilliams, a research fellow at Sinopsis, said: “Our findings leave an important question:” How do people closely involved in the Chinese military get to work on highly sensitive projects at top UK universities? ” Ministers and the security forces must find an answer – and find it before Britain begins to lose its scientific crown jewels. ‘
The government last week announced the creation of the Research Collaboration Advice Team, which will advise universities on collaborating with academics from hostile countries.
Such collaborations are common. The Mail on Sunday has found nine research papers written by Cambridge Graphene Center staff and academics from Chinese universities associated with the PLA since 2016. development of China’s nuclear warheads.
A Cambridge University spokesman said: ‘Dr. Junzong Feng did not conduct any experiments, did not have access to laboratories and did not attend research meetings during his time at university. ‘
He added that the university has never had “any formal relationship with … military institutions in China.”
A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy said, “Academic exchanges between China and the UK are an integral part of China-UK relations.”
Dr. Feng did not respond to a request for comment.