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Gallium sulfide single crystals have been irradiated with different thermal neutron doses. Defects introduced by neutron irradiation turn out to be optically active, giving rise to absorption bands with energies ranging from 1.2 to 3.2 eV. Bands lying in the band-gap exhibit Gaussian shape. Their energies and widths are independent of the irradiation dose, but their intensities are proportional to it. Thermal annealing is completed in two stages, ending at around 500 and 720 K, respectively. Centers responsible for the absorption bands are proposed to be gallium-vacancy-galliuminterstitial complexes in which the distance between the vacancy (acceptor) and the interstitial (donor) determines the energy and intensity of the absorption band, as well as the annealing temperature. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.