Designing topographic clusters is of significant interest, yet it remains challenging as they often lack mobility or deformability. Here we exploit the huge volumetric expansion (up to 3000%) of a new type of building block, thermally expandable microbombs. They consist of a viscoelastic polymeric shell and a volatile gas core, which, within structural confinement, create micro-clusters via inverse jamming and topographical close-packing. Upon heating, microbombs anchored in rigid confinement underwent balloon-like blowing up, allowing for dense clusters via soft interplay between viscoelastic shells. Importantly, the confinement is unyielding against the internal pressure of the microbombs, thereby enabling self-assembled clusters, which can be coupled with topographic inscription to introduce structural hierarchy on the clusters. Our strategy provides densely packed yet ultralight clusters with a variety of complex shapes, cleavages, curvatures, and hierarchy. In turn, these clusters will enrich our ability to explore the assemblies of the ever-increasing range of microparticle systems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)