Conductive coatings on complex fibrous systems are attracting interest for new electronic and other functional systems. Obtaining a quantitative conductivity value for complex surface coatings is often difficult. This work describes a procedure to quantify the effective electrical conductivity of conductive coatings on non-conductive fibrous networks. By applying a normal force orthogonal to the current and field direction, fiber/fiber contact is improved and consistent conductance values can be measured. Nylon fibers coated with an electroless silver plating shows effective conductivity up to 1950 S cm−1, and quartz fibers coated with tungsten by atomic layer deposition (ALD) show values up to ∼1150 S cm−1. Cotton fibers and paper coated with a range of ZnO film thicknesses by ALD show effective conductivity of up to 24 S cm−1 under applied normal force, and conductivity scaled as expected with film coating thickness. Furthermore, we use the conductive coatings to produce an “all-fiber” metal–insulator–metal capacitor that functions as a liquid chemical sensor. The ability to reliably analyze the effective conductivity of coatings on complex fiber systems will be important to design and improve performance of similar devices and other electronic textiles structures.
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