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The correlation between the high intrinsic mechanical stresses in plasma‐deposited hydrogenated amorphous silicon and the magnitude of the light‐induced degradation in this material (Staebler–Wronski effect) has been studied for films with different thicknesses and for various substrate materials. The experimental results suggest that the creation of metastable defects occurs mainly in the strained region of the films near the substrate, and that the number of these states is roughly proportional to the total stress in a given sample.