(Science: microscopy) The separation and recombination of direct vs. Diffracted rays in a light microscope adjusted to kohler illumination. at the lower focal plane of the condenser there is an annular diaphragm with an opaque central stop. Through this diaphragm rays are focused as a hollow cone onto the specimen. In the back focal plane of the objective there is a conjugate annular diaphragm (phase plate). If here the undiffracted rays are retarded (by a transparent film of proper thickness on the annulus of the phase plate), bright contrast results. If, instead, the phase-delay film is on the central spot, dark contrast results. With either a bright or a dark-contrast phase plate, the annulus is usually coated with a partially absorbing (very thin) film of silver (Zernike method) or carbon soot (Wilska method) to reduce the higher amplitude (intensity) of the undiffracted rays.