Radiotherapy is a key pillar of solid cancer treatment. Despite high level of conformal dose deposition, radiotherapy is limited due to co-irradiation of organs-at risk and subsequent normal tissue toxicities. Nanotechnology offers an attractive opportunity for increasing the efficacy and safety of cancer radiotherapy. Leveraging the freedom of design and the growing synthetic capabilities of the nanomaterial-community, a variety of engineered nanomaterials have been designed and investigated as radiosensitizers or radioenhancers. While research so far has been primarily focused on gold nanoparticles and other high atomic number materials to increase the absorption cross section of tumor tissue, recent studies are challenging the traditional concept of high-Z nanoparticle radioenhancers and highlight the importance of catalytic activity. This review provides a concise overview on the fundamental knowledge of nanoparticle radioenhancement mechanisms and their quantification. It critically discusses potential radioenhancer candidate materials and general design criteria for different radiation therapy modalities, and concludes with research priorities in order to advance the development of nanomaterials, to enhance the efficacy of radiotherapy and to increase at the same time the therapeutic window.