We have combined recent experimental developments in our laboratory with modelling to devise ways of maximising the stabilised efficiency of hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) PIN solar cells. The cells were fabricated using the conventional plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition (PECVD) technique at various temperatures, pressures and gas flow ratios. A detailed electrical-optical simulator was used to examine the effect of using wide band gap P-and N-doped μ c-SiO x :H layers, as well as a MgF 2 anti-reflection coating (ARC) on cell performance. We find that with the best quality a-Si:H so far produced in our laboratory and optimised deposition parameters for the corresponding solar cell, we could not attain a 10% stabilised efficiency due to the high stabilised defect density of a-Si:H, although this landmark has been achieved in some laboratories. On the other hand, a close cousin of a-Si:H, hydrogenated polymorphous silicon (pm-Si:H), a nano-structured silicon thin film produced by PECVD under conditions close to powder formation, has been developed in our laboratory. This material has been shown to have a lower initial and stabilised defect density as well as higher hole mobility than a-Si:H. Modelling indicates that it is possible to attain stabilised efficiencies of 12% when pm-Si:H is incorporated in a solar cell, deposited in a NIP configuration to reduce the P/I interface defects and combined with P- and N-doped μ c-SiO x :H layers and a MgF 2 ARC.