The Department of Physical Chemistry, one of the two oldest laboratories in the Vinča Institute, was founded in December 1948, by the famous Serbian physical chemist, academician Pavle Savić. He was also the founder of the Institute, and the long-time head (1948-1960) of the Physical-Chemistry Department, as was its first name. In the early years of the Institutes existence, many later famous Serbian researchers began tehir scientific work within Department. In addition to professor Pavle Savić, two other eminent professors and members of SASA, Dr. Slobodan Ribnikar and Dr. Milenko Šušić, were collaborators of the Laboratory during their careers. Depending on the organizational changes in the Institute, the name of the Laboratory has been changing. Since 1991, the Department of Physical Chemistry bears its current name.

From the very beginning until today, the collaborators of the Department had been developing rich scientific cooperation with the most prominent experts and scientific institutions in the country and worldwide, and the development of physical chemistry in the Department had been keeping up with the trends in modern physical chemistry in the world. The initial activities in the Department were focused on the development of the methods of analysis of uranium, thorium, and rare earth in local minerals, as well as on the preparation of neutron sources for fundamental research at the Institute. In the mid-sixties, the research in the Department was oriented to the chemistry of isotopes, spectrochemistry, mass spectrometry and the chemistry of complex compounds. In subsequent decades, the research was expanded to electrochemistry and laser chemistry.

At the beginning of the new century, the Department has widened its scope of research fields and has taken on a distinctly multidisciplinary character, as well as the whole Institute. At the moment, more than 60 researchers are employed in the Department. They are engaged in research areas of laser and mass spectroscopy, development and applications of plasma sources, biochemistry, biomedicine, genetics, green chemistry, environmental chemistry, and theoretical chemistry. In addition, they work on the development and application of modern electrochemical devices for production and electrical energy storage, synthesis, characterization and application of nanomaterials, areas of nuclear and national security, as well as preparedness, response and reaction to HBRN threats. Also, in accordance with its original course and thanks to the combination of fundamental and applied research, the Department has been recognizable for all these years, by development and implementation of specific chemical analysis methods.