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In the present paper, the structural and electrical performances of microcrystalline silicon (μc-Si:H) single junction solar cells co-deposited on a series of substrates having different surface morphologies varying from V-shaped to U-shaped valleys, are analyzed. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is used to quantify the density of cracks within the cells deposited on the various substrates. Standard 1 sun, variable illumination measurements (VIM) and Dark J(V) measurements are performed to evaluate the electrical performances of the devices. A marked increase of the reverse saturation current density (J0) is observed for increasing crack densities. By introducing a novel equivalent circuit taking into account such cracks as non-linear shunts, the authors are able to relate the magnitude of the decrease of Voc and FF to the increasing density of cracks. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.