Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
 / Updated 

Three Chinese professors are among six people charged with economic espionage and stealing trade secrets involving technology that helps filter unwanted signals on mobile devices. The alleged spying was done to benefit universities and companies on behalf of the Chinese government, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Tuesday.

The Chinese professors were affiliated with Tianjin University, the department said.

The 32-count indictment said the trade secrets alleged to have been stolen came from Avago Technologies and Skyworks Solutions.

The defendants allegedly used their access to U.S. technologies to steal secrets for China's economic advantage, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said in the Justice Department statement.

The indictment alleges that the stolen information allowed the university a "state-of-the-art" thin-film bulk acoustic resonator fabrication facility, to open the joint venture ROFS Microsystems, and to subsequently obtain commercial and military contracts for the technology.

Thin-film bulk acoustic resonators—FBAR or TFBAR— are used commonly used in mobile devices to help filter out unwanted signals. The technology also has military applications.

One of the suspects, Professor Hao Zhang, 36, a former Skyworks employee and one of the professors, was arrested on Friday in Los Angeles, where he had just landed on a flight from China, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Prosecutors identified the other five are Wei Pang, 35, a former Avago employee and a professor; Jinping Chen, 41, a professor and a member of the board of directors for ROFS Microsystems; Chong Zhou, 26, a Chinese citizen, Tianjin University graduate student and design engineer at ROFS Microsystems; Huisui Zhang, 34, a Chinese citizen who studied with Pang and Zhang at in California; and Zhao Gang, 39, a Chinese citizen, is the general manager of ROFS Microsystems.

SOCIAL

-- Reuters and CNBC contributed to this report.