Focused 30keV gallium ion beam, single-pixel drilling combined with backside particle detection is used to fabricate pores having exit diameters as small as ~11 nm in 200 nm-thick silicon nitride membranes. The backside channelplate detector response obtained about the onset of breakthrough is interpreted by plan-view transmission electron microscopy investigations of hole morphology. Immediately prior to breakthrough, there is a rise in detector signal as the local membrane thickness is reduced. This likely occurs as a result of ion transmission and, possibly, forward sputtering. At the dose required for breakthrough a maximum detector signal is obtained thus providing a potential method for end point detection. The focused ion drilling technique avoids broad area beam exposure methods that are often used to reduce hole diameter to nanometer dimension. In addition, the current approach overcomes difficulties in determining a required dose for breakthrough such as those that arise from an inhomogeneous membrane thickness, redeposition, or ion channeling.