Cauchy stress tensor
In continuum mechanics, the Cauchy stress tensor is a tensor (that is, a linear map) that describes the state of stress at a point inside a material. The tensor relates a unit-length direction vector n to the stress vector T(n) across an imaginary surface perpendicular to n.
In any chosen Cartesian coordinate system, the tensor can be written as a 3×3 symmetric real matrix, and is therefore determined by only 6 (instead of 9) independent parameters. It is a central concept in the linear theory of elasticity.
The tensor is named after the 19th century mathematician Augustin-Louis Cauchy, and is often called simply the stress tensor, even though this name could be applied to other measures of stress, such as the Piola–Kirchhoff stress tensor.
Formal definition 
Assuming a material element (Figure 2.3) with planes perpendicular to the coordinate axes of a Cartesian coordinate system, the stress vectors associated with each of the element planes, i.e. T(e1), T(e2), and T(e3) can be decomposed into a normal component and two shear components, i.e. components in the direction of the three coordinate axes. For the particular case of a surface with normal unit vector oriented in the direction of the x1-axis, denote the normal stress by σ11, and the two shear stresses as σ12 and σ13:
In index notation this is
The nine components σij of the stress vectors are the components of a second-order Cartesian tensor called the Cauchy stress tensor, which completely defines the state of stress at a point and is given by
where σ11, σ22, and σ33 are normal stresses, and σ12, σ13, σ21, σ23, σ31, and σ32 are shear stresses. The first index i indicates that the stress acts on a plane normal to the xi-axis, and the second index j denotes the direction in which the stress acts. A stress component is positive if it acts in the positive direction of the coordinate axes, and if the plane where it acts has an outward normal vector pointing in the positive coordinate direction.
Thus, using the components of the stress tensor
Alternatively, in matrix form we have
The Voigt notation is used extensively in representing stress-strain relations in solid mechanics and for computational efficiency in numerical structural mechanics software.
Transformation rule of the stress tensor 
It can be shown that the stress tensor is a contravariant second order tensor, which is a statement of how it transforms under a change of the coordinate system. From an xi-system to an xi'-system, the components σij in the initial system are transformed into the components σij' in the new system according to the tensor transformation rule (Figure 2.4):
where A is a rotation matrix with components aij. In matrix form this is
The Mohr circle for stress is a graphical representation of this transformation of stresses.
Normal and shear stresses 
The magnitude of the normal stress component σn of any stress vector T(n) acting on an arbitrary plane with normal unit vector n at a given point, in terms of the components σij of the stress tensor σ, is the dot product of the stress vector and the normal unit vector:
The magnitude of the shear stress component τn, acting in the plane spanned by the two vectors T(n) and n, can then be found using the Pythagorean theorem:
Principal stresses and stress invariants 
At every point in a stressed body there are at least three planes, called principal planes, with normal vectors , called principal directions, where the corresponding stress vector is perpendicular to the plane, i.e., parallel or in the same direction as the normal vector , and where there are no normal shear stresses . The three stresses normal to these principal planes are called principal stresses.
The components of the stress tensor depend on the orientation of the coordinate system at the point under consideration. However, the stress tensor itself is a physical quantity and as such, it is independent of the coordinate system chosen to represent it. There are certain invariants associated with every tensor which are also independent of the coordinate system. For example, a vector is a simple tensor of rank one. In three dimensions, it has three components. The value of these components will depend on the coordinate system chosen to represent the vector, but the magnitude of the vector is a physical quantity (a scalar) and is independent of the Cartesian coordinate system chosen to represent the vector. Similarly, every second rank tensor (such as the stress and the strain tensors) has three independent invariant quantities associated with it. One set of such invariants are the principal stresses of the stress tensor, which are just the eigenvalues of the stress tensor. Their direction vectors are the principal directions or eigenvectors.
A stress vector parallel to the normal unit vector is given by:
where is a constant of proportionality, and in this particular case corresponds to the magnitudes of the normal stress vectors or principal stresses.
Knowing that and , we have
This is a homogeneous system, i.e. equal to zero, of three linear equations where are the unknowns. To obtain a nontrivial (non-zero) solution for , the determinant matrix of the coefficients must be equal to zero, i.e. the system is singular. Thus,
Expanding the determinant leads to the characteristic equation
The characteristic equation has three real roots , i.e. not imaginary due to the symmetry of the stress tensor. The , and , are the principal stresses, functions of the eigenvalues . The eigenvalues are the roots of the Cayley–Hamilton theorem. The principal stresses are unique for a given stress tensor. Therefore, from the characteristic equation, the coefficients , and , called the first, second, and third stress invariants, respectively, have always the same value regardless of the coordinate system's orientation.
For each eigenvalue, there is a non-trivial solution for in the equation . These solutions are the principal directions or eigenvectors defining the plane where the principal stresses act. The principal stresses and principal directions characterize the stress at a point and are independent of the orientation.
A coordinate system with axes oriented to the principal directions implies that the normal stresses are the principal stresses and the stress tensor is represented by a diagonal matrix:
The principal stresses can be combined to form the stress invariants, , , and . The first and third invariant are the trace and determinant respectively, of the stress tensor. Thus,
Because of its simplicity, the principal coordinate system is often useful when considering the state of the elastic medium at a particular point. Principal stresses are often expressed in the following equation for evaluating stresses in the x and y directions or axial and bending stresses on a part.:p.58–59 The principal normal stresses can then be used to calculate the von Mises stress and ultimately the safety factor and margin of safety.
Using just the part of the equation under the square root is equal to the maximum and minimum shear stress for plus and minus. This is shown as:
Maximum and minimum shear stresses 
The maximum shear stress or maximum principal shear stress is equal to one-half the difference between the largest and smallest principal stresses, and acts on the plane that bisects the angle between the directions of the largest and smallest principal stresses, i.e. the plane of the maximum shear stress is oriented from the principal stress planes. The maximum shear stress is expressed as
When the stress tensor is non zero the normal stress component acting on the plane for the maximum shear stress is non-zero and it is equal to
Derivation of the maximum and minimum shear stresses:p.1–46:p.45–78:p.111–157:p.9–41:p.33–66:p.43–61 The normal stress can be written in terms of principal stresses as
Knowing that , the shear stress in terms of principal stresses components is expressed as
The maximum shear stress at a point in a continuum body is determined by maximizing subject to the condition that
This is a constrained maximization problem, which can be solved using the Lagrangian multiplier technique to convert the problem into an unconstrained optimization problem. Thus, the stationary values (maximum and minimum values)of occur where the gradient of is parallel to the gradient of .
The Lagrangian function for this problem can be written as
where is the Lagrangian multiplier (which is different from the use to denote eigenvalues).
The extreme values of these functions are
These three equations together with the condition may be solved for and
By multiplying the first three equations by and , respectively, and knowing that we obtain
Adding these three equations we get
this result can be substituted into each of the first three equations to obtain
Doing the same for the other two equations we have
A first approach to solve these last three equations is to consider the trivial solution . However this options does not fulfill the constrain .
Considering the solution where and , it is determine from the condition that , then from the original equation for it is seen that . The other two possible values for can be obtained similarly by assuming
Thus, one set of solutions for these four equations is:
These correspond to minimum values for and verifies that there are no shear stresses on planes normal to the principal directions of stress, as shown previously.
A second set of solutions is obtained by assuming and . Thus we have
To find the values for and we first add these two equations
Knowing that for
and solving for we have
Then solving for we have
The other two possible values for can be obtained similarly by assuming
Therefore the second set of solutions for , representing a maximum for is
Therefore, assuming , the maximum shear stress is expressed by
and it can be stated as being equal to one-half the difference between the largest and smallest principal stresses, acting on the plane that bisects the angle between the directions of the largest and smallest principal stresses.
Stress deviator tensor 
The stress tensor can be expressed as the sum of two other stress tensors:
- a mean hydrostatic stress tensor or volumetric stress tensor or mean normal stress tensor, , which tends to change the volume of the stressed body; and
- a deviatoric component called the stress deviator tensor, , which tends to distort it.
where is the mean stress given by
The deviatoric stress tensor can be obtained by subtracting the hydrostatic stress tensor from the Cauchy stress tensor:
Invariants of the stress deviator tensor 
As it is a second order tensor, the stress deviator tensor also has a set of invariants, which can be obtained using the same procedure used to calculate the invariants of the stress tensor. It can be shown that the principal directions of the stress deviator tensor are the same as the principal directions of the stress tensor . Thus, the characteristic equation is
where , and are the first, second, and third deviatoric stress invariants, respectively. Their values are the same (invariant) regardless of the orientation of the coordinate system chosen. These deviatoric stress invariants can be expressed as a function of the components of or its principal values , , and , or alternatively, as a function of or its principal values , , and . Thus,
Because , the stress deviator tensor is in a state of pure shear.
A quantity called the equivalent stress or von Mises stress is commonly used in solid mechanics. The equivalent stress is defined as
Octahedral stresses 
Considering the principal directions as the coordinate axes, a plane whose normal vector makes equal angles with each of the principal axes (i.e. having direction cosines equal to ) is called an octahedral plane. There are a total of eight octahedral planes (Figure 6). The normal and shear components of the stress tensor on these planes are called octahedral normal stress and octahedral shear stress , respectively.
Knowing that the stress tensor of point O (Figure 6) in the principal axes is
the stress vector on an octahedral plane is then given by:
The normal component of the stress vector at point O associated with the octahedral plane is
which is the mean normal stress or hydrostatic stress. This value is the same in all eight octahedral planes. The shear stress on the octahedral plane is then
See also 
- Bernard Hamrock (2005), "Fundamentals of Machine Elements". McGraw–Hill. ISBN 0-07-297682-9
- Wai-Fah Chen and Da-Jian Han (2007), "Plasticity for Structural Engineers". J. Ross Publishing ISBN 1-932159-75-4
- Teodor M. Atanackovic and Ardéshir Guran (2000), "Theory of Elasticity for Scientists and Engineers". Springer. ISBN 0-8176-4072-X
- Han-Chin Wu (2005), "Continuum Mechanics and Plasticity". CRC Press. ISBN 1-58488-363-4
- Rabindranath Chatterjee (1999), "Mathematical Theory of Continuum Mechanics". Alpha Science. ISBN 81-7319-244-8
- John Conrad Jaeger, N. G. W. Cook, and R. W. Zimmerman (2007), "Fundamentals of Rock Mechanics" (4th edition). Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 0-632-05759-9
- Mohammed Ameen (2005), "Computational Elasticity: Theory of Elasticity and Finite and Boundary Element Methods" (book). Alpha Science, ISBN 1-84265-201-X
- William Prager (2004), "Introduction to Mechanics of Continua". Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-43809-0