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The effect of interelectrode spacing on the properties of hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a‐Si:H) films grown at high radio‐frequency (rf) power density by rf plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition method, with control of dusty plasma conditions by heating both the electrodes, was investigated. The formation of precursors responsible for gas phase polymerization itself was sought to be controlled by preheating of the source gas mixture. Optimization of the interelectrode spacing for film characteristics was carried out for this novel deposition technique combining cathode heating and preheating of the source gases. The films were characterized by infrared vibrational spectroscopy, absorption and reflection measurements in the visible and near infrared regions, measurements of dark and photo‐conductivity (with light induced degradation), and electron spin resonance spectroscopy. © 1995 American Institute of Physics.