Photothermal energy conversion is important when designing optically active devices based on plasmonic nanoparticles. Many early applications of these nanoparticles, like photothermal tumor ablation, drug delivery, and microfluidic devices, depend on the conversion of light to heat. In this dissertation, we compare three nanoparticle species' theoretical absorption efficiency from electromagnetic calculations with their photothermal transduction efficiency from measurements of temperature in an illuminated system. Several mechanisms that may account for differences between the two efficiencies are suggested. With a view specifically toward clinical applications, our analysis assumes a random orientation of nanorods, as would occur naturally in the tumor vasculature. For the samples studied here, photothermal transduction efficiencies differed only by a factor of two or three, regardless of particle type and concentration. Both experiment and theory show that particle size plays a dominant role in determining transduction efficiency, with smaller particles more efficient for heating and larger particles for combined heating and imaging. Additionally, we evaluate the potential of mixtures of plasmonic nanoparticles for CO 2 scrubbing substrates that could be used in space applications. These measurements indicate possible dynamic nanoscale effects that need to be accounted for when modeling photothermal transduction.