Wake up and smell the pencil lead, says Japanese stationery and writing instrument manufacturer Pentel, who has combined the power of nanotechnology with the knowledge of expert aromatherapists to develop a new type of fragrant pencil lead. Featuring a long-lasting aroma designed to enhance mental capacity, the pencil lead -- called "Ain supplio" -- recently won the coveted Stationery of the Year Award (2007).
Unlike previous types of fragrant lead, which use weak aromatic surface coatings that tend to lose their smell quickly, Ain supplio relies on fragrant ingredients trapped in nanocapsules, or tiny air bubbles, which are infused into the lead itself. The microscopic size of the nanocapsules gives them extra strength to hold their fragrance for long periods of time -- about 3 years if kept in the unopened package, 2 years if kept in their plastic case, and more than 3 months out in the open air.
Tentatively priced at 210 yen (under $2) per set, Ain supplio comes in three flavors -- Refresh, Healing and Positive -- each prepared by aromatherapists working with ingredients such as rosemary, mint, lemongrass and green tea. The aromatic blends are specially designed to boost the learning capacity of those in smelling range, says Pentel, who hopes the product will appeal to students. Ain supplio will hit shelves in September, just in time for the fall semester.