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In this article, we show how the well-known one-phonon confinement model can be improved to determine the diameter of silicon nanocrystalline spheres from the optical phonon wave-number shift, even using a physical-meaning weighting function. We show that the fundamental parameter is the knowledge of the phonon dispersion. The accuracy of our approach is supported by experimental data obtained by selective UV Raman scattering on nanocrystalline silicon thin films produced by size-selected silicon cluster beam deposition. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.