We demonstrate that a mercaptan-terminated organophosphonate nanolayer at gold-titania interfaces can give rise to two- to three-fold enhancement in the interfacial fracture toughness and thermal conductance. Electron spectroscopy reveals that interfacial delamination occurs at the metal-molecule interface near the gold-sulfur bonds, consistent with density functional theory calculations of bond energies. Qualitative correlation between interfacial fracture toughness and bond energies suggest that organophosphonate nanolayers are resilient to humidity-induced degradation. These results, and the versatility of organophosphonates as surface functionalization agents for technologically relevant materials, unlock uncharted avenues for molecular engineering of interfaces in materials and devices for a variety of applications.

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