The effect of ion concentration, neutralization level and counterions in ionomers was systematically studied to obtain the optimal electroluminescent (EL) characteristics in polymer light-emitting diodes using poly[2-methoxy-5-(2'-ethyl-hexyloxy)-1,4-phenylenevinylene] (MEH-PPV) for the emissive layer and sulfonated polystyrene (SPS) ionomers for the electron-injecting layer. The optimum ion concentration of NaSPS was determined to be at 6.7 mol %. Ionomers with a higher neutralization level make the EL device more efficient, with the highest efficiency being at 200% overneutralization. The ionomer with a smaller metal counter ion greatly enhances the efficiency of EL devices with the indium-tin-oxide/MEH-PPV/LiSPS/Al device having the highest EL quantum efficiency, 1.18% photons/electron. The dominant factor in enhancing the luminance is the number of ionic dipoles near the cathode irrespective of the type of metal counterions, while the hole blocking mostly depends on the restriction of chain segmental motion in ionomers. (C) 2001 American Institute of Physics.