What Ceri Brenner did with her prize money

Ceri won the Quantum Zone way back in June 2011. We caught up with her to see what she has been able to do using the £500 prize money and here is what she said…


My idea for the prize money was “Plasmas in your Pocket”– to design and print a set of beautiful, intriguing and educational coasters that can be used in cafes, bars and other recreational areas to introduce the public to laser-plasmas and their applications. To draw a person in the coasters rely only on the stunning snapshots of glowing plasmas that we’ve captured during high power laser experiments at the Central Laser Facility outside Oxford. Once they’ve admired the aesthetic beauty of the image, a second layer of wonder is offered if a person reads and learns what it is that they’re looking at and the societal benefit of the research.

To make this happen I partnered with Chris Hatherill, from pop science initiative Super-Collider, to design the coasters and realise the brief within the budget of £500.

Coaster designs

The designs of the coasters shine an extremely high energy light on the world of plasma physics.

We managed to come up with 3 designs and printed 1000 copies of each design with the given budget. So far I’ve been trialling them out at bars, cafes, public talks and events throughout 2015. I’ve taken them with me for school and public talks across the UK and have sent them to friends to distribute in Sydney, Australia and Washington, US. They were popular at my favourite rum bar, Milk, in Reading, which is my perfect target audience as they’re mostly 20-30 somethings with maybe a tech and sci interest but no background.

The produced coasters

The real thing, printed up and ready to take laser light physics into more bars than a round of pub golf.

I still have just under half of the original 3000 left, so there’s still a chance for people to get their hands on them! If they prove to be popular then I will look to seek further funding for more coasters from STFC or the Institute of Physics through their public engagement schemes.

Posted on August 26, 2015 by modantony in STFCWinner, Winner Reports. Comments Off on What Ceri Brenner did with her prize money