Todd himself was loath to talk about what he was working on in the months before his death. "Mom, I'm being asked to compromise US security, but I will not do it," Ms. Todd, speaking to the Monitor in a phone interview, recounts her son telling her via Skype.
It was not until after June 24, 2012, when their son was found hanged in his apartment, an apparent suicide, that the Todds got a stunning clue. They had gone to Singapore after his death to try to piece together what had happened – soon discovering stark inconsistencies between the scene at Shane's apartment and accounts by Singapore police. As they were leaving, they found the backup hard drive for one of the laptops Singapore police had taken.
Several files included technical requirements for a joint research project between the government-backed research lab Todd worked for in Singapore, the Institute of Microelectronics (IME), and Huawei Technologies, a China-based electronics giant. The project was aimed at making GaN power amplifier chips.
On one hand, it would hardly be surprising for Huawei to be pursuing such technology. Power-distribution systems, industrial systems, electric vehicles, and cell towers are all key GaN industries, according to a recent study by Markets and Markets, a market research firm in Dallas. As a result, the GaN power amplifier market is surging at a growth rate of 80 percent per year and is expected to exceed $1.7 billion in sales a decade from now, the report says.