For most liquids, shear thinning is reversible and the liquids will at some point in time gain their original viscosity when a shearing force is removed. When this recovery process is significantly time dependent, the fluid is considered to be thixotropic. Thixotropy is related to the time need for the microstructural (associated) rearrangements occurring in a shear thinning fluid following an applied shear.

A shear thinning material may be thixotropic, but a thixotropic material will always be shear thinning.

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