In this work, we investigate the role of amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) thin films deposited by a plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) technique on porous silicon (PS) to facilitate its water vapor and oxygen gas sensing properties using its electrical response. Overall we notice a rectifying behavior from a-Si:H/PS heterojunction device, where a current enhancement of one and four orders of magnitude was observed in the presence of oxygen gas and water vapor, in comparison with atmospheric air at room temperature, respectively. The photoluminescence (PL) investigation of PS shows a slight blue shift in the PL emission band from 1.72 to 1.77 eV and the intensity of the PL is enhanced by a factor of 5.4 with increase of porosity from 21% to 77%. This PL emission may originate from the O-Si-H related absorbance bands. Alternatively, quenching of the PL intensity was observed after a-Si:H films were deposited on PS specimens. Besides, micro-Raman and atomic force microscopic (AFM) analyse were carried out to understand the structure and morphological features of the PS and a-Si:H/PS specimens. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.