Low-temperature photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy, in conjunction with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and optical microscopy (OM) have been carried out to investigate the origin of radiative recombination from various extended defects that evolve during high-temperature processing of ion-implanted epitaxial silicon. From PL studies on N2-annealed samples, we provide spectroscopic evidence of precipitation of the implanted impurities well below the solid-solubility limit. This result is being supported by observations from secondary ion mass spectrometry and spreading resistance profiling of the implanted ions. Cross sectional TEM analyses on these samples reveal <111>-oriented precipitates located in a region containing a high dislocation density. Postimplantation annealing in oxygen ambient results in the formation of dislocations and oxidation-induced stacking faults (OISF). A systematic analysis of PL spectra on different-implanted and preannealed samples, in conjunction with TEM and OM analyses, reveals that the conventionally observed dislocation-related D1 and D2 lines in the PL spectrum is not a characteristic of the OISF, but of the dislocations only. It is shown that the OISF acts as a nonradiative channel for luminescence in silicon. Various other sources of nonradiative channels in silicon are also presented and the efficacy of photoluminescence technique in the characterization of process-induced defects in silicon is discussed. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.