The microstructure, hydrogen bonding configurations and hydrogen content of high quality and stable hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) films prepared by a simple ''uninterrupted growth/annealing" plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition technique have been investigated by Raman scattering and infrared absorption spectroscopy. The high stability a-Si:H films contain small amounts of a microcrystalline phase and not less hydrogen (10-16 at. %), particularly, the clustered phase hydrogen, Besides, the hydrogen distribution is very inhomogeneous. Some of these results are substantially distinct from those of conventional device-quality n-Si:H film or stable cr-Si:H films prepared by the other techniques examined to date. The stability of n-Si:H films appears to have no direct correlation with the hydrogen content or the clustered phase hydrogen concentration. The ideal n-Si:H network with high stability and low defect density is perhaps not homogeneous. (C) 1998 American Institute of Physics.