CORNING, N.Y., Feb. 24 -- Corning Inc. and Photronics Inc. have inked a two-year agreement to jointly develop a new generation of photoblanks, which are the glass foundations of the photomasks that semiconductor manufacturers use to optically etch integrated circuits onto silicon wafers. The companies estimate that the photoblank market will grow from today's $400 million to $700 million by 2003; likewise, they expect the photomask market to grow from its current $2 billion to approximately $4 billion by 2003. The technology we are developing will allow semiconductor manufacturers to make a new generation of faster and more versatile chips, said Randall D. Price, executive vice president of Corning Advanced Materials. In particular, they will enable manufacturers to use shorter wavelengths of ultraviolet light, called deep UV, to etch more intricate circuits onto silicon wafers. Steve Carlson, Photronics' vice president of technology, commented, Meeting the need for such short wavelength lithography requires a combination of advanced equipment, process technology, and new materials. It's the only way to reach the desired levels of circuit-pattern density and fidelity. Our association with Corning will allow us to significantly add to the performance of our Sub-Wavelength Reticle Solutions photomask product families.