Interaction of light with plasmonic nano-antennas is investigated. First, an extensive parametric study is performed on the material and geometrical effects on dipole and bow-tie nano-antennas. The transmission efficiency is studied for various parameters including length, thickness, width, and composition of the antenna as well as the wavelength of incident light. The modeling and simulation of these structures is done using 3-D finite element method based full-wave solutions of Maxwell's equations. Next, a modeling-based automated design optimization framework is developed to optimize nano-antennas. The electromagnetic model is integrated with optimization solvers such as gradient-based optimization tools and genetic algorithms.