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The viscous stress tensor is a tensor used in continuum mechanics to model the part of the stress at a point within some material that can be attributed to the strain rate, the rate at which it is deforming around that point.

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• Viscous stress tensor
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• The viscous stress tensor is a tensor used in continuum mechanics to model the part of the stress at a point within some material that can be attributed to the strain rate, the rate at which it is deforming around that point.
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• The viscous stress tensor is a tensor used in continuum mechanics to model the part of the stress at a point within some material that can be attributed to the strain rate, the rate at which it is deforming around that point. The viscous stress tensor is formally similar to the elastic stress tensor (Cauchy tensor) that describes internal forces in an elastic material due to its deformation. Both tensors map the normal vector of a surface element to the density and direction of the stress acting on that surface element. However, elastic stress is due to the amount of deformation (strain), while viscous stress is due to the rate of change of deformation over time (strain rate). In viscoelastic materials, whose behavior is intermediate between those of liquids and solids, the total stress tensor comprises both viscous and elastic ("static") components. For a completely fluid material, the elastic term reduces to the hydrostatic pressure. In an arbitrary coordinate system, the viscous stress ε and the strain rate E at a specific point and time can be represented by 3 × 3 matrices of real numbers. In many situations there is an approximately linear relation between those matrices; that is, a fourth-order viscosity tensor μ such that ε = μE. The tensor μ has four indices and consists of 3 × 3 × 3 × 3 real numbers (of which only 21 are independent). In a Newtonian fluid, by definition, the relation between ε and E is perfectly linear, and the viscosity tensor μ is independent of the state of motion or stress in the fluid. If the fluid is isotropic as well as Newtonian, the viscosity tensor μ will have only three independent real parameters: a bulk viscosity coefficient, that defines the resistance of the medium to gradual uniform compression; a dynamic viscosity coefficient that expresses its resistance to gradual shearing, and a rotational viscosity coefficient which results from a coupling between the fluid flow and the rotation of the individual particles. In the absence of such a coupling, the viscous stress tensor will have only two independent parameters and will be symmetric. In non-Newtonian fluids, on the other hand, the relation between ε and E can be extremely non-linear, and ε may even depend on other features of the flow besides E.
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