The adoption of amorphous silicon based solar cells has been drastically hindered by the low efficiency of these devices, which is mainly due to a low hole mobility. It has been shown that using both crystallized and amorphous silicon layers in solar cells leads to an enhancement of the device performance. In this study the crystallization of a-Si prepared by PECVD under various growth conditions has been investigated. The growth stresses in the films are determined by measuring the curvature change of the silicon substrate before and after film deposition. Localized crystallization is induced by exposing a-Si films to focused 532 nm laser beam of power ranging from 0.08 to 8 mW. The crystallization process is monitored by recording the Raman spectra after various exposures. The results suggest that growth stresses in the films affect the minimum laser power (threshold power). In addition, a detailed analysis of the width and position of the Raman signal indicates that the silicon grains in the crystallized regions are of few nm diameter. © 2012 IEEE.