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The influence of plasma display panel (PDP) cell size on discharge characteristics is investigated in 50-in high-definition (HD) and full-HD (FHD) ac-PDPs using experiments and a 2-D simulation. When increasing the resolution of the 50-in PDP from HD to FHD, the discharge volume in a cell was reduced, yet the phosphor area per unit area was not reduced. The comparative experimental results showed a decreased luminous efficacy and IR efficiency for the FHD test panel of about 25%-29% and 26%-29%, respectively, indicating that the decreased luminous efficacy was mainly due to a decreased discharge efficiency, rather than the phosphor area. Meanwhile, the simulation results revealed that the degradation of the vacuum ultraviolet efficiency in the FHD cells was due to a decrease in the electron heating efficiency and Xe-excitation efficiency of the electrons. Specifically, the decrease in the electron heating efficiency was more critical, which was related to a smaller discharge space and shorter discharge path.