Thick films of polycrystalline silicon for solar cells can be made by crystallization of amorphous silicon. Due to the high internal stress of amorphous silicon films, deposition of such thick films is challenging. In this paper, we investigate the failure behavior of thick amorphous silicon films. Depending on the deposition method of amorphous silicon films, they can be cracked or delaminated. While nonhydrogenated amorphous silicon films deposited by an evaporator are cracked when the accumulated strain in thick films reaches a critical point, hydrogenated amorphous silicon films deposited by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition are delaminated from the substrate. Critical cracking/delamination thicknesses of amorphous silicon films are theoretically derived and excellent agreement with experimental results is shown. © 2010 American Institute of Physics.