The scheme of the self-referenced continuous-variable quantum key distribution (SR CV-QKD) has been experimentally demonstrated. However, because of the finite dynamics of Alice’s amplitude modulator, there will be an extra excess noise that is proportional to the amplitude of the reference pulse, while the maximal transmission distance of this scheme is positively correlated with the amplitude of the reference pulse. Therefore, there is a trade-off between the maximal transmission distance and the amplitude of the reference pulse. In this paper, we propose the scheme of SR CV-QKD with virtual photon subtraction, which not only has no need for the use of a high intensity reference pulse to improve the maximal transmission distance, but also has no demand of adding complex physical operations to the original self-referenced scheme. Compared to the original scheme, our simulation results show that a considerable extension of the maximal transmission distance can be obtained when using a weak reference pulse, especially for one-photon subtraction. We also find that our scheme is sensible with the detector’s electronic noise at reception. A longer maximal transmission distance can be achieved for lower electronic noise. Moreover, our scheme has a better toleration of excess noise compared to the original self-referenced scheme, which implies the advantage of using virtual photon subtraction to increase the maximal tolerable excess noise for distant users. These results suggest that our scheme can make the SR CV-QKD from the laboratory possible for practical metropolitan area application.
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