The revelation that a groundbreaking mobile phone chip is a fake has shocked China, where the home-grown 'invention' had become a source of considerable national pride.
Shanghai's prestigious Jiaotong University announced at the weekend that the Hanxin DSP (digital signal processing) chip had been faked by inventor Professor Chen Jin, who was also the dean of the university's School of Microelectronics.
Rumours of foul play have been swirling around the project for several months, and appear to have provided the impetus for the investigation of Professor Chen.
One anonymous online forum post that began circulating in China in January claimed that Professor Chen had created the original Hanxin chips simply by grinding away the top surface of some of Motorola's Freescale DSP chips with sandpaper and having them reprinted with the Hanxin logo.
The university did not confirm this version of events, but investigators told local media that the chip had used "foreign" technology.
They also said that, contrary to claims by the design team, Hanxin's performance in tasks like media encoding and fingerprint image matching had failed to meet targets.
Professor Chen, a 38 year-old who earned his doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin, has been lauded by the media and feted by China's political leaders during the past three years.
However, he has now been fired from his post and will have to repay millions of dollars in government funds invested in the project, reports say.
Angry comments on Chinese forums and blogs have called for everything from criminal charges to execution for the disgraced academic.
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