Plasma display panels (PDPs) are a leading technology for large-area flat panel displays. As a result, there is significant interest in improving their efficiency, luminosity, and lifetime. In this article, results from a two-dimensional model are used to investigate the consequences of operating conditions, gas mixture, cell dimensions, and material properties on the visible light generation capacity (luminosity and efficiency) of a coplanar-electrode PDP cell sustained in He/Ne/Xe gas mixtures. Of the species that dominantly lead to the generation of visible light (Xe∗, Xe∗∗, and Xe2∗), Xe2∗ makes the largest contribution for our conditions since its UV radiation is optically thin and Xe2∗ is efficiently generated from the long-lived xenon metastable. Significant improvements could be made in PDP light generation efficiency by choosing operating conditions that favor production of Xe2∗, such as increasing gas pressure to enhance the three-body collision processes that generate Xe2∗. Gas mixtures with more Ne (or less He) were found to produce more visible light at higher efficiency since electron transport in Ne is less collisional than He and Xe2∗ is produced more efficiently in three body collisions with Ne. PDP light emission characteristics are sensitive to the spacing between the dielectrics and there is an optimum spacing where both total visible light output and efficiency are high. It was found that PDP cells do not generate visible light efficiently during the postavalanche discharge phase due to low values of E/N (electric field/total gas density) in the bulk plasma region. Slight improvements can be made in light generation efficiency be choosing conditions for which PDP cell spends less time in the discharge phase in each cycle. © 1999 American Institute of Physics.