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Excitonics is a rapidly expanding field of nanophotonics in which the harvesting of photons, ensuing creation and transport of excitons via Förster resonant energy transfer (FRET), and subsequent charge separation or photon emission has led to the demonstration of excitonic wires, switches, Boolean logic and light harvesting antennas for many applications. FRET funnels excitons down an energy gradient resulting in energy loss with each step along the pathway. Conversely, excitonic energy upconversion via upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs), although currently inefficient, serves as an energy ratchet to boost the exciton energy. Although FRET-based upconversion has been demonstrated, it suffers from low FRET efficiency and lacks the ability to modulate the FRET. We have engineered an upconversion FRET-based switch by combining lanthanide-doped UCNPs and fluorophores that demonstrates excitonic energy upconversion by nearly a factor of 2, an excited state donor to acceptor FRET efficiency of nearly 25%, and an acceptor fluorophore quantum efficiency that is close to unity. These findings offer a promising path for energy upconversion in nanophotonic applications including artificial light harvesting, excitonic circuits, photovoltaics, nanomedicine, and optoelectronics.

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This is an author-created, un-copyedited version of an article published in New Journal of Physics. IOP Publishing Ltd is not responsible for any errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or any version derived from it. The Version of Record is available online at doi: 10.1088/1367-2630/17/11/115007