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Combining hardness indentation tests and micro-Raman spectroscopy it is shown that metallic Si-II is produced near the interface of a diamond indenter and silicon to a depth of about 0.5 μm, where the highest stresses (hydrostatic and deviatoric) exist. At fast unloading rates Si-II transforms to the amorphous state, whereas a mixture of the r8 high pressure polymorph Si-XII and the bc8 phase Si-III forms upon a slow load release. The region of Si-III+Si-XII is surrounded by the wurtzite structured Si-IV, where the stresses during the indentation had not been high enough to cause the transition to the metallic state. Thus, because of shear deformation a direct transformation to Si-IV takes place. Outside the phase-transformed regions the classical aspects of indentation-induced deformation by dislocation glide, twinning and crack formation are observed. Annealing of the high pressure phases leads to the formation of Si-IV at moderate temperatures and to the reversal to the original diamond structure (Si-I) at temperatures above 500 °C. Using the laser beam of the Raman spectrometer to anneal the samples the phase transitions could be monitored directly. The formation of silicon polymorphs other than amorphous or metallic structures during hardness indentation is, to the best of our knowledge, reported here for the first time. The results compare well with the polymorphism in Si that is known from diamond anvil cell experiments. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.