Boris Yakshinskiy, a long-term member of the Laboratory for Surface Modification in the School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University–New Brunswick, passed away at Saint Peter's Hospital, New Brunswick, on October 17, 2015, following an apparent heart attack.
Private services were held on October 21, with arrangements by the Bongiovi Funeral Home, Raritan, N.J. 08869.
Yakshinskiy was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1948. He obtained his master’s (1972) and doctoral (1986) degrees from the Ioffe Institute. His thesis work involved stimulated desorption experiments from tungsten surfaces. This led to his coming to Rutgers in 1996, in a postdoctorate capacity, to work with Ted Madey. While most of his time then was concerned with UHV-based surface science, his best-known work is a Nature paper on alkali desorption from moon rocks, as part of a project to probe how alkali atoms are produced in tenuous planetary atmospheres.
After Madey’s death, Yakshinskiy worked with Bob Bartynski, studying resist materials and photon- and electron-induced chemistry on surfaces for EUV lithography applications. Later, he was in charge of the Rutgers tandem lab and performed elemental analysis for many groups at Rutgers and elsewhere. His most recent notable achievement was the development, with Len Feldman and others, of a technique to detect and quantify hydrogen content in ultrathin films, with a sensitivity of a hundredth of a monolayer, orders of magnitude better than competing techniques.
Yakshinskiy was characterized as having superb "hands" and an ability to make experiments work correctly. He guided the research of many graduate students and post-docs, and made sure they exerted the same rigorous standards to their data as he did.
His wife, daughter, and grand-daughter survive him.