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A two-dimensional (2D) self-consistent simulation model is used to investigate the effect of several different sustaining voltage waveforms on the luminous efficiency of plasma display panel (PDP) cells. We first show that such a model can reproduce all the major trends of experimental display measurements concerning the effect of waveform on PDP efficiency. We then use this model to put forth new high-efficiency PDP designs. A new sustaining waveform combining assistant voltage pulses with asymmetric pulse driving results in ∼25% maximum increase in efficiency within the voltage margin of the cell. A new plasma display using combined waveform and electrode designs is determined to have a maximum increase in efficiency of ∼40%.