This paper presents an investigation of practical quantum secure communication using multi-photon tolerant protocols. Multi-photon tolerant protocols loosen the limit on the number of photons imposed by currently used quantum key distribution protocols. The multi-photon tolerant protocols investigated in this paper are multi-stage protocols that do not require any prior agreement between a sender Alice and a receiver Bob. The security of such protocols stems from the fact that the optimal detection strategies between the legitimate users and the eavesdropper are asymmetrical, allowing Bob to obtain measurement results deterministically while imposing unavoidable quantum noise to the eavesdropper Eve's measurement. Multi-photon tolerant protocols are based on the use of transformations known only to the communicating party applying them i.e. either Alice or Bob. In this paper multi-photon tolerant protocols are used in order to share a key or a message between a sender Alice and a receiver Bob. Thus such protocols can be either used as quantum key distribution (QKD) protocols or quantum communication protocols. In addition, multi-stage protocols can be used to share a key between Alice and Bob, followed by the shared key used as a seed key to a single-stage protocol, called the braiding concept. This paper presents a practical study of multi-photon tolerant multi-stage protocols. Security aspects as well as challenges to the practical implementation are discussed. In addition, secret raw key generation rates are calculated with respect to both losses and distances over a fiber optical channel. It is well-known that raw key generation rates decreases with the increase in channel losses and distances. In this paper, coherent non-decoying quantum states are used to transfer the encoded bits from Alice to Bob. Raw key generation rates are calculated for different average photon numbers µ and compared with the case of µ=0.1, which is the average number of photons used in most single-photon based QKD protocols. Furthermore, an optimal average number of photons to be used within the secure region of the multi-photon tolerant protocols is calculated. It is worth noting that, with the increased key generation rates and distances of communication offered by the multi-photon tolerant protocols, quantum secure communication need not be restricted to quantum key distribution; it can be elevated to attain direct quantum secure communication.


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