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The paper reports on the effects of a proton irradiation campaign on a series of thin-film silicon solar cells (single- and double-junction). The effect of subsequent thermal annealing on solar cells degraded by proton irradiation is investigated. A low-temperature annealing behaviour can be observed (at temperatures around 100 to 160°C) for microcrystalline silicon solar cells. To further explore this effect, a second proton irradiation campaign has been carried out, but this time on microcrystalline silicon layers. The effect of proton irradiation and subsequent thermal annealing on the optical and electronic properties of microcrystalline silicon is, thus, thoroughly investigated. © 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.