Australian researchers made a major breakthrough when they set a world record for the highest levels of solar power efficiency ever achieved.

A team from the University of New South Wales has achieved a record 40.4 percent conversion efficiency by using standard solar cells combined with a mirror and filters, according to a Xinhua report on Monday.

This special combination reduces wasted energy and eclipses the previous world solar power efficiency record of 36 percent, according to Martin Green, director of the university's Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (PV).

The breakthrough is expected to make the clean solar energy a stronger competitor of polluting fossil fuels.

Green said that the team would aim at raising the efficiency levels to 42 percent next year, which is about halfway towards the ultimate goal of 86 percent.

"It's horse and buggy days as far as solar (power) is concerned at the moment. There's just this enormous potential for improvement in efficiency,"

Green was quoted as saying by the Fairfax Media on Monday.

He said that the world's best efficiency was created by stacking three solar panels in a way that they captured energy from different wavelengths of sunlight. The team then used mirrors and filters to direct excess light to a fourth photovoltaic (PV) cell to further boost efficiency.

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