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A laser based electron generator is shown, for the first time, to produce sufficient charge to conduct time resolved investigations of radiation induced chemical events. Electron pulses generated by focussing terawatt laser pulses into a supersonic helium gas jet are used to ionize liquid water. The decay of the hydrated electrons produced by the ionizing electron pulses is monitored with 0.3 μs time resolution. Hydrated electron concentrations as high as 22 μM were generated. The results show that terawatt lasers offer both an alternative to linear accelerators and a means to achieve subpicosecond time resolution for pulse radiolysis studies. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.