Abstract Hydrogen dilution of the active gas during deposition has been found to be a very effective way to improve the quality of amorphous silicon-based materials and solar cells. With increasing hydrogen dilution, the material is characterized by an improved order, and at a certain threshold dilution, the amorphous to microcrystalline transition takes place. The best material is grown just below the threshold and is heterogeneous consisting of tiny crystallites embedded in an amorphous matrix of improved order. In this paper, we discuss the effects of hydrogen dilution on the material and cell properties of amorphous silicon-based alloys and provide an explanation for their improved stability against light-induced degradation. We also discuss some special properties of the on-the-edge materials that are not seen in the conventional amorphous or microcrystalline alloys.