In this contribution, we investigate the effect of post-deposition treatments on finished non-encapsulated thin-film microcrystalline silicon solar cells and show that annealing in vacuum leads to improved electrical properties of the solar cells, particularly for cells deposited on rough super strates. Our results suggest that both curing of intrinsic defects in the silicon, which can appear during the deposition of the ZnO back electrode, as well as an improvement of the ZnO back-electrode conductivity itself, occur during an annealing in vacuum, leading to large improvements of the open-circuit voltage and fill factor values. An improvement of the porous zones in the absorber layer, as induced by rough superstrates, is also observed by Fourier-transform photocurrent spectroscopy, implying that these porous zones cannot be considered as being purely bi-dimensional, but have a spatial extension within the absorber layer. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.