Microcrystalline hydrogenated silicon films (muc-Si:H) have been deposited by a high current DC plasma in argon-silane-hydrogen mixtures at growth rates up to 10 nm/s and at substrate temperatures below 500 degreesC. Scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction and FTIR analyses show that these films are highly crystallized. The surface morphology depends strongly on the experimental conditions and varies from a cauliflower structure to a prismatic one. The crystalline orientation of the films also changes with the experimental conditions whereas other properties such as crystallite size, columnar growth, and crystallinity of the films remain unchanged. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.