Nanostructured silicon films were deposited on the amorphous to microcrystalline transition region by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition, using an rf frequency of 27.12 MHz. Micro-Raman spectroscopy data show that in the transition region the peaks typically associated with amorphous silicon are slightly shifted towards higher wavenumber and become narrow, which could be explained by the short range order improvement or by the incorporation of very small Si nanocrystallites. The hydrogen evolution spectra from samples deposited in this region show two peaks, one at low temperature (LT) and the other at high temperature (HT), around 698 K and 840 K, respectively. These peaks represent activation energies of 87 (LT) and 135 (HT) kJ/mol, respectively, as deduced from the so-called Kissinger's method. The solar cells fabricated using i-layers produced in this transition region show good performances, with current density = 14.96 mA/cm(2), short circuit voltage = 0.95 V, and fill factor = 0.67, which leads to efficiencies of 9.52%. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.